Notes from An Alien

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Tag Archives: Independent Bookstores

Independent Bookstores ?vs? Indie Authors


Ever heard of Joe Konrath?

Independent Bookstores and Indie Authors

Image Courtesy of Brendan Gogarty ~ http://www.freeimages.com/photographer/brendan76-44966

If you take that last link, you’ll find 34 past posts that feature him

He’s a rare bird who was doing quite well in traditional publishing, had some difficulties that clearly disturbed him, took to Indie publishing and hasn’t looked back since.

If you need advice to navigate the life of Indie authorhood, he’s one of the top sources for reliable information.

A necessary word of caution: Mr. Konrath has “made it”—he works tirelessly—even if you follow his example you may never “succeed”—do read my most important post for writers

There’s a recent post of Joe’s called, Konrath’s Advice For Indie Booksellers.

He happens to have sold over 2 million books through Amazon.

He recently sent a newsletter to a large group of his readers (he hadn’t sent one since 2014…)

He received the following response from an Indie bookseller on his list:

“One of the first rules of marketing is know your audience.

“It is not the best technique to send an email soliciting orders for Amazon and their related products to Independent Bookstores. This is not the way to win friends and garner bookseller support.

“Knowing that you are putting your personal efforts into Amazon guarantees that your titles are  special order upon request only for my store.”

After he relates much more surrounding his relationship with booksellers and with Amazon, Joe says this:

“The above email…took me to task about one of the first rules of marketing. Well, what is one of the first rules of retail? Isn’t it stocking items that customers want to buy?

“In my novel ‘Dirty Martini’, I thanked over three thousand booksellers, by name. But once I signed with Amazon, these booksellers considered me the enemy, and refused to stock my books.

“Is that the way to compete with Amazon? By driving your customers to Amazon.com because they can’t find what they want at your bookstore?”

There’s also a link to a post from 2011 that had some suggestions Mr. Konrath had given Independent bookstores.

If you’re an independent author (or, want to be), I suggest you read both posts, carefully

But, just in case you don’t like taking links out of blog posts, here’s a list of his recommendations:

Remember why people shop indie
Hold author events
Start publishing

By the way, some bookstores have already become their own publishers… 

And, here’s one of Joe’s closing remarks to Indie Booksellers:

“Nobody wants to see the Indies disappear. There is a tremendous opportunity here, but it starts with taking the emotion out of how you view self-published authors and looking at it with an eye to what customers want.”

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Will All The Bookstores Die?


What with all the hoopla over Barnes & Noble and Borders struggling and dying and the surge of e-book sales, many folks fear that bookstores will all go away.

Independent Bookstores

Image Courtesy of Julia Freeman-Woolpert ~ http://www.freeimages.com/profile/juliaf

I’ve addressed this issue in past posts—here are links to two of them:

Why Are Bookstores Dying? ~or~ How To Understand The “News” About Books…

Are Physical Bookstores Really A Thing of The Past?

However, Husna Haq, writing for the CSM, has a recent article called, Indie bookstores are on the rise: What’s behind their comeback?

She admits that “…for years, indies did appear to be goners. Between 2000 and 2007, some 1,000 independent bookstores closed, according to the American Booksellers Association (ABA).

She references an article, from 2006, on Slate, that says:

“Ever since the rise of the book superstore in the 1990s, we have been flooded with lamentations for the rapidly disappearing independent booksellers—cool hang-outs where the staff knows something about literature, the owners select each title with care, and bearded patrons sit at crowded coffee tables, talking about Jack Kerouac or the latest translation of Tolstoy.”

Then, she says:

“But that wasn’t the end of the story. After a precipitous fall, indie bookstores are making a quiet, but sure, comeback. In fact, the number of independent bookstores has increased 25 percent since 2009, according to the ABA. What’s more, sales are up, too.”

She shares three shouts:

“The Independent Bookstore Lives!” trumpeted Salon. “The Bookstore Strikes Back”, declared The Atlantic. “Indie Bookstores Aren’t Dead”, announced the Huffington Post.

And, the last bit I’ll share from her article (do go read it all…):

“…it was Borders, not the indies, that went out of business; Barnes & Noble has struggled; and e-book sales have leveled off, leaving print books as the most popular medium of choice…”

Even though I’m happy to buy books from Amazon for my Tablet (right now I have 289 books on it…), I’d Love to have a decent Indie bookstore near me

Just like that Slate article said:

“…cool hang-outs where the staff knows something about literature, the owners select each title with care, and bearded patrons sit at crowded coffee tables, talking about Jack Kerouac or the latest translation of Tolstoy.”

So, to cap off this post, I’ll share some reasons to support Indie bookstores, from a great site, IndieBound:

The Economy

  • Spend $100 at a local and $68 of that stays in your community. Spend the same $100 at a national chain, and your community only sees $43.
  • Local businesses create higher-paying jobs for our neighbors.
  • More of your taxes are reinvested in your community–where they belong.

The Environment

  • Buying local means less packaging, less transportation, and a smaller carbon footprint.
  • Shopping in a local business district means less infrastructure, less maintenance, and more money to beautify your community.

The Community

  • Local retailers are your friends and neighbors—support them and they’ll support you.
  • Local businesses donate to charities at more than twice the rate of national chains.
  • More independents means more choice, more diversity, and a truly unique community.

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