Okay, lately there has been a lot of buzz about why Independent bookstores don’t support Independent Publishers and Authors. I thought I would take a moment and give you my 10 favorite reasons Indy stores don’t support Echelon. These are things that have actually been said to me by various Indy Booksellers across the country. I am not making these things up.
Now, before you get all up in my face for ragging on Indy stores again, please know that I will NEVER EVER single out a store by name who has been disrespectful to us. That is between us and them. I do, however, post this note with the following question: When did it become all right for one small business to be totally disrespectful to another small business because the other business is small? Really?
Am I cutting off my nose to spite my face with this post? I hope not. I am simply trying to make a point. Echelon Press has gone out of its way to work with Indy bookstores. We have been a member of various Indy Bookseller Associations, been to their trade shows, and told people to go to the Indy stores. What do we get in return? Most of the time we get insulted. I’ve said it before, I used to own an Indy store and I know what it’s like to try and stay in business. We have authors doing events where they sell 30-100 books. Tracy Carbone just had an event in a Borders (because her local stores don’t seem to want to support her) where she sold out of the 40 copies of her book in 20 minutes. She would have much rather given those sales to an Indy store, but none would have her. Special thanks to Borders Store #120 and their GREAT staff for a super event!
We WANT to sell books in Indy stores. So all you booksellers reading this and thinking badly of me. Take a minute and consider this. We want to sell books. You want to sell books. Why can’t we do it together?
So, here is my list.
10. Maybe when you’re a bigger company than you are now we might consider it.
What I should have said: So our 10 years in business, 200+ books published, and numerous awards and nominations aren’t enough for you to consider selling our titles in your 1500 sf. sf store?
9. I don’t like any of your books.
What I should have said: So do you get all your customers to sign a waiver stating that they can’t like a book if you don’t?
8. Indy publishers never offer real discounts or take returns.
What I should have said: um…yes, WE do! 45% and all titles are returnable.
7. We don’t have time to deal with all the returns.
What I should have said: Well, gosh how about we sell those books instead.
6. Nobody knows who you are so we know we won’t sell any copies of your books anyways.
What I should have said: That’s okay, no one knows about your store either, so you’re probably right.
5. We don’t support publishers who sell their books through Amazon.com.
What I should have said: If you promise to carry all of our books and sell as many as Amazon.com, we will take all our books down from their site. And furthermore, have you seen how many Indy bookstores are selling books through Amazon used venues?
4. You can’t be a real publisher because you don’t have offices in New York.
What I should have said: What the hell does that mean?
3. Our readers prefer to read books written by real authors.
What I should have said: So do the authors who write the books you sell use different words to write their books?
2. We don’t have room in our store for books by every fly by night publisher who thinks they know good books.
What I should have said: That’s okay, you probably won’t be around long enough to pay the invoice.
1. We only carry books by real publishers!
What I should have said: That’s okay, we only sell books to real bookstores.
I would like to take a minute to give a shout out to some Indy stores who do support Echelon Press and we love you for it!
Klindt’s Booksellers and Stationers
315 East Second Street, The Dalles, OR 97058
Bob’s Beach Books
1747 NW Hwy 101, Lincoln City, OR 97367
Children’s Book World
17 Haverford Station Road, Haverford, PA 19041
The Sly Fox
123 North Springfield, Virden, IL 62690
Ah, deja vu.
I think all we indie publishers understand Amazon is a sore subject, but as you point out–when the bulk of your sales are through Amazon what is a publisher supposed to do? Should we cheat our authors out of sales by boycotting our main sales channel? Because that seems to be what is expected of us.
My favorite, though, is the ironic juxtaposition of “you won’t take returns” and “we don’t want the hassle of returns.” If you think about it, they both have the same answer: sell the blessed books.
Neither we nor our authors are asking for favors. We are willing to work hard with booksellers to a mutual benefit, but the operative word there is “mutual.” All too often, it seems as though all of the giving is supposed to be on our end, and that just doesn’t work. Small presses don’t have huge war chests to absorb losses, any more than the booksellers do. In fact, I think it’s the fact that we share so many similarities that makes this situation so very frustrating.
I can’t believe that some people would be that rude…! Yikes! :-O