Friday, December 26, 2008

It's the BOOKS.

Me and Rob Dougherty on Facebook are having a difference of opinion about selling books. There may be a problem defining terms -- or perhaps the booksellers feel extremely threatened by new marketing methods?

I thought I was being pleasant when expressing how we use the internet, and can't ignore it -- maybe I should have used smiley Emoticons? On the other hand, getting upset is always a great way to start a meme! We may both get good PR out of this -- there is no such thing as bad PR in marketing, after all (well, unless you're leaving a beach full of oil-choked dying ducks, or poisoning whole villages in India).

Anyways, here's the discussion:

Rob: At the Indie Book Sellers cause, it is about who is selling the books.

Me: It's ALWAYS about the books. That's the point of the exercise. The actual connection is Author to Reader. Everybody else is a middleman. We need middlemen, but without authors and readers there are no middlemen. It IS possible to have authors and readers without middlemen -- it's clumsier, and takes more effort, but it's possible -- but not the other way around.

No, wait, I tell a lie -- with the internet, every day it's LESS clumsy and more possible.

I WANT independent bookstores so I'm cooperating with them. But I don't NEED them any more -- more and more authors don't NEED them any more. I just don't want them to go away. I LOVE them. Call me old-fashioned. Call me sentimental -- but an indie bookstore is about the personal touch, and an atmosphere. It's about a tradition.

(The dream of an indie bookstore -- and this has been backed by authors, publishers, ad builders and readers -- is a shop whose owner has eclectic tastes, an open mind, and knows his or her stock -- and you can get a cookie and a cup of tea to read a book with. And there's a cat on the back stacks. I think we've all been --happily --infected by Shakespeare and Company...).

Rob: Donna....I understand what you are referring to; however, the Independent Book Sellers cause is about the book sellers, those that fell passionate enough about the books place them into the hands of potential readers. Your perspective of the absence of the middleman is what disturbs me the most.

Maybe you can find a group that is dedicated to nothing more than online sales. Your perspective is not one that I agree with or support. We as booksellers do not need authors, such as yourself who have little if no respect for the art of hand selling. Your insulting perspective will provoke me to not carry your books in our shop.

I will be sure to share your perspective with the many indie book shop owners and staff who feel as I do. As a member of the American Book Sellers Association and the New Atlantic Independent Book Sellers, I have the capacity to share your rather insulting messge with many and will. I cannot wait to start hearing from them as your ill-informed opinion is perhaps the most twisted and demonstrates a very poor reflection of your respect for book sellers. If cutting the middle man out completely is something that you seek, than I am sure your message will help you accomplish that.

I have deleted your membership to the Indie Book Sellers cause.

Me: I'm sorry if I've made you feel I don't like indie booksellers or don't want to use them. I'm just pointing out that there are many other means of selling books now, and if you don't pay attention to that, you'll lose track of what a lot of the market is doing.

Authors use middlemen and readers buy from them simply because they're a useful tool. There is absolutely no reason a traditional bookseller can't take advantage of the new systems.

Your answer is interesting. I might post it on my blog and Facebook and twitter the links. I think a discussion about the future of bookselling by ALL methods needs to be begun. None of them needs to be mutually exclusive.


Miss Jane A. Barcroft said...

Not the first man I've observed who seriously needed Midol. You told him how much you cherished what he stood for even though it was possible for you to do without same, and he threw a tantrum and disinvited you to his party.

Isn't this kind of like Yenta the Matchmaker saying that marriage is all about her role in it?edi

Dorothy said...

Ooooh, did you EVER step on his precious toes! He completely ignored your comments about coziness, cookies, tea and cats. "I'm gonna hear what I WANT to hear!" Whether he likes it or not, middlemen are not always needed. Too bad he feels so threatened by your thoughts on the subject. After all, nobody should have the right to disagree with him, should they?

pataphysician said...

Y'see Mcmurphy. you come in here with your card games and your basketball and your wild ideas, and then Nurse Ratched deletes you, and it's up to those of us who really understand to smother you and escape to Canada . . .
The thing is, as long as the Indie Booksellers Cause isn't willing to use new marketing methods, they're preaching to the choir; that there is how religions die!
As has been written, evolution works.

Donna Barr said...

This scenario makes me wonder.... one of my customers goes into his bookstore, asks for one of my books -- and he doesn't take the chance to make some money because he's personally ad at an author? Scratching head.