What I’ve Learned about Bookstores That Authors Need to Know
Indie booksellers can be strong allies for an author. But, it means you have to be theirs. If they invite you into their store for a signing, and you tell their customers your books are available on Amazon, you’ll never be invited back.
Authors need to realize Amazon is the number one competitor of Indie bookstores. Amazon has shut down more bookstores than anything else! In 2005 to 2007, across the country a bookstore closed every week. Currently there are only1664 independent bookstores in the U. S.
While Indies can be an author’s ally, Amazon is not. Every program Amazon has in place hurts the author. Everyone asks, “Is your book on Amazon?” As if it’s a mark of great achievement. Anyone can put anything on Amazon. Being on Amazon doesn’t mean your book is good. It just means it’s sold on Amazon. It’s nothing more than a shopping convenience, and for an author, it’s a costly convenience. Amazon isn’t paying you to advertise for them, so why do you? Authors need to get in the habit of telling their customers their books are available wherever books are sold, and suggest they go to the bookstore first.
If you know a local bookstore takes online orders, offer to become an affiliate. The bookstore will love you for it and carry all your books. This involves putting a buy now button on your website that links to the bookstore. You can see some on my book pages. Many bookstores don’t do online sales, but making the offer goes a long way to sealing the relationship.
When I’m on the road and see a bookstore in a town I’m traveling through, I stop. Usually I buy something. I give them my business card and catalog; I invite them to go to my website and see the books. When they go to my website they know immediately that I’m an indie supporter because they see the SIBA and indie symbols and the indie finder button is front and center. They know I care and support them. Otherwise, why should they care about me? I’m just another author – and they know about a hundred.
On a civic note, when you spend $100 locally, about $68 stays in your community. If you spend $100 at a national chain, maybe $43 stays in your community. If you spend $100 at Amazon, zero comes back to your community. A successful bookstore is a strong indicator of community values. I believe every author should buy their reading from a bookstore. Amazon doesn’t need you. Your community does. Your local indie bookseller does. And you need them.