“In the days of the eReader, author events are the saving grace of the bricks and mortar bookstore. They provide opportunities for authors and readers to meet, and readers can ask questions and gain insights into the author’s thinking or reasons for a particular scene or character.” So says Jill Hendrix, owner of Fiction Addiction, an independent bookstore in Greenville, South Carolina. Ten years ago Jill, an avid reader and book lover, followed her dream and opened her own bookstore. She must be doing something right, because Fiction Addiction is still going strong. She features authors in the store, cooperates with a local restaurant in offering luncheons and talk or readings with visiting authors, and maintains a charming bookstore.
Fiction Addictioncarries more fiction than non-fiction and has all genres, from mainstream to erotica to children’s books. Jill says they do the most business in mystery, then regional fiction. After that it’s science fiction, with children’s books their fourth largest-selling product. Series are quite popular—readers get to know the characters and want to see more.
While open to small presses that offer standard discounts and returns, Fiction Addiction works primarily with the three major distributors. It’s much easier for a bookstore to work through a big distributor and not have to go through setting up an individual account with an individual publisher for one book signing, when that may be the only involvement with that publisher.
Independent bookstores offer a number of services not always found in larger or big-box stores or online. They bring many authors to the store who wouldn’t normally be in the area, have a selection of used books, are happy to make recommendations, and will gladly order specially for a customer. One of the disappointments, however, is to have a customer take advantage of the extra services Fiction Addiction works hard to provide and then have that customer order online to save a little money.
She’s finding hardback sales are slowing in favor of eBooks, but mass market and trade paperback are still fairly strong. EBooks are certainly having an impact, and Jill would like to sell them but can’t at present. She says it requires an ABA website, which Fiction Addiction doesn’t have. Maybe there’s an opportunity for an individual publisher to set up something.
Jill definitely sees a new generation of readers coming along. One of the benefits of the Harry Potter series, aside from interesting children in reading, was convincing them they could read longer books and making them proud of holding up a 700-page book and saying, “I read this!”
Children are becoming more sophisticated in their reading now, looking for more involved plots. The Olympian series by Rick Riorden sparked much interest, and now young readers are clamoring for his new series. Another thing is that since the Twilight books came out, more adults are reading Young Adult (YA) novels.
Fiction Addictionis located on Woodruff Road across from Costco in Greenville. The website is http://www.fiction-addiction.com Stop by and look around. Jill and her staff will be glad to recommend something to your taste or place an order for that special book.
Find Fiction Addiction:
1020 Woodruff Road
Greenville, SC 29607
Ellis Vidler is a writer and editor. She won the South Carolina Writers Conference prize for short fiction and was a finalist in or won a few contests. Her first novel, Haunting Refrain, was published by Silver Dagger Mysteries. She is currently a member of Sisters in Crime and Romance Writers of America and lives with her husband and dogs in the South Carolina piedmont.
Her new book, The Peeper, is co-authored with Jim Christopher.
This is the short version. If you really want to know more about her writing history, click here.
I’m so looking forward to going to Fiction Addiction on Monday, August 1st!
The Absolute Value of Mike (Philomel 2011)
Mockinbird (Philomel 2010)
I certainly hope there’s a way for indie bookstores to get in on eBooks. It’s a growing part of the market, and we will all–publishers, authors, and booksellers–benefit if readers can find out more about them, maybe read an excerpt or watch a trailer, and download it right there. It seems like a logical step to me. I’m hopeful. Someone will figure out a way, and I bet it won’t be long.
I wonder if there ‘s a way in which an independent bookstore might be able to sell e-Books ‘over the counter.’ The store could have some form of promotional literature for customers to peruse. If someone wants an eBook, the store buys it on the customer’s behalf at a discount from (say) Smashwords (using some kind of unique code which tells the publisher where the e-Book was sold) and emails it directly to the customer, who pays the retail price.
Okay, now my head hurts 🙂
Polly, yes, they need our support. They’re certainly the most receptive to small presses and independent authors. Jill is especially suppportive of local area authors. She’s very good for readers too. She knows her books and can recommend for different tastes.
Thanks for the heads-up, Ellis. Next time I’m in Greenville, only 25 miles away, I’ll make it a point to stop by. This is a tough time for bookstores, in general, but we should all support the indies. There isn’t one in my city.