Tag Archives: bookstores

What was Satan Thinking?

 

First, let’s be clear on what I mean when I say POD books. This term has become so misused and misunderstood that it has actually resulted in lost sales for many. This doesn’t need to be the case.

POD stands for PRINT ON DEMAND. You’ll notice the word PRINT. Not publish or promote, PRINT!

POD is the process used by PRINTERS to eliminate the need for excessive runs of print copies. The printer simply waits until there is an order and then prints the specific number of copies ordered, removing the immediate potential for wasted paper.

I’m not sure why POD books have received such a negative reputation, but most booksellers and librarians, and now due to the overwhelming number of authors arguing about it in public forums, readers equate POD with lower quality books. This simply isn’t the case.

For over a decade, a multitude of publishers, both big and small, have been using the POD method for fulfilling orders.

The quality of the written word is determined well before the actual book ever goes to print, thereby eliminating the misconception that POD books are “bad.” It needs to be understood by all that POD, the method of printing does not account for the number of poorly written and edited books being sold in the market.

The biggest problem with the misunderstanding of POD is the ability for companies and authors to market and promote the books. However, with the proper education within the retail (and library) industries, bookseller and acquisition librarians could not only increase their potential sales and titles available, but could increase the variety of stories available to their readers.

Readers crave originality. They are tired of reading the same recycled stories by the same authors. Yet, they are deprived of any freshness in their choices, because the larger and more traditional publishers are reluctant to take any financial risk on the newer and more exciting stories written by unknown or new authors.

I would encourage everyone in the book industry to educate themselves and to recognize the value of POD books and to acknowledge the potential for increased sales. Give new authors a chance to prove that they have writing skill and the ability to tell a good story, no matter how many copies of their book is printed at one time.

Furthermore, consider the environmental impact of POD books. A traditional publisher may print 5000 copies of a paperback novel by a new author, and only sell 1500 of them. This means that the remaining 3500 unsold copies will be put into waste. Had the publisher used the POD process to print those books, they would have simply printed the 1500 copies as the orders came in and eliminated the waste. If you did this for 10,000 books in one year, imagine how much paper would be saved and thus less trees.

Bottom line, POD is not the work of Satan. It is simply a process used to print books in smaller quantities. Sorry, Dude, you don’t get credit for this one.

My final point refers to the availability and returnability of books produced using the POD process. The status of returns is not determined across the industry, it is determined by the specific publisher or author. This means that it is an unfair assumption for a bookstore not to carry a POD book, without first determining its returnability status.

We all have choices, but when we make a choice, that doesn’t give us the right to complain when that choice cause a problem.

I hope that after reading this post, more people who speak ill of the POD process will reconsider their “choices” and give authors a fair chance to sell books and entertain readers.

Will you?

Originally published at ©Life as a Publisher by Karen L. Syed
This can be reproduced in it’s entirety with no additions or corrections.

 

Is Occupying the Answer?

I read a post this morning called “Occupy Amazon” the bibliopirate Blog. This has become a huge issue in the book industry. Amazon vs. world. Really? If you’ve read any of my posts you know I’m an Amazon.com advocate. Before you go getting your knickers all twisted up at me, save your rotten fruit, I’m not going to change my mind. At least not until they screw me. Why do I like Amazon so much you might ask?

1. I sell books there–and lots of them. Literally 10 to 1 compared to brick and mortar stores. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to sell books in bookstores, but stores simply don’t want to sell our books. There are many reasons they offer, but bottom line is bookstores aren’t willing to take the risk on a small business, even though many of the stores are small businesses themselves.

2. Convenience. I’m not a fan of traffic, actually I’m a bit of a road rage driver, anyone who’s been in a car with me can attest to that. Stupid drivers just piss me off. So, it’s easier if I just shop from my computer. No one gets hurt, and my blood pressure stays within a manageable range.

3. Selection. I can find 100 times more stuff to buy from Amazon than I can from any bookstore. My experience with bookstores is that they favor the big publishers and best sellers. That’s great, if that’s what keeps them in business then that’s what they should sell. But it doesn’t work for me. I prefer new authors, lots of series, and have a fondness for indie publishers. I find very few of those in bookstores.

I read post after post and hear comment after comment about how Amazon is killing the brick and mortar stores. I simply don’t believe this. I think the stores could actually compete more effectively if they gave more consideration to what their customers want and less to what they think will sell. Customer service is the key element to any successful business. No one is willing to pay higher prices and be treated badly. I know I’m not.

I’ll pay a higher price if the store clerks actually acknowledged me, offered me any assistance, and knew what they hell they were doing. This has not been the case in the last ten stores (of any kind) I have been in. Especially bookstores.

I just don’t see Amazon as the villain everyone makes them out to be. They are a business, like any other, and they are in the business to make money. That is why we all go into business, right? I posted a comment somewhere about this and I clearly stated that consumers have a choice. No one is forcing anyone to go to Amazon.

As for bibiopirate’s situation. It’s sad when people go into stores, especially bookstores, and forget about common courtesy. Looking for a book? If you can shop on Amazon then you should be smart enough to know how to look up the info you seek on the web. Don’t be an asshat and go to a local store, make them do all the legwork (that makes you lazy), and then deprive them of the sale. That is just pissy and there is a special place in hell for people like you.

Show some decency. If you have the time and the inclination to actually go into a store, then give them your business. They have earned it, simply by being there for you.

bibliopirate doesn’t really call for a boycott of Amazon, though others have. That’s not the answer. Amazon has as much right to fight for the consumer ‘s business than any store or whatever. What happens in the retail world is 100% dependant on the consumer. It is YOU who makes the choice where you spend your money. If Amazon is the king of retailers it’s because consumers have made it so. You want your local stores to thrive, then get off your duff, get out of your house, and go spend your money there.

But for cripes sake, remember, your local store is not an information booth on your way to online shopping. It’s a place where people just like  you go to earn a living and support their families. Show some respect!

You can also do your favorite stores a favor by promoting them. In fact, why don’t you post your favorite local store in the comment section of this post. No big box stores, just hometown businesses that deserve some exposure and some business.

Tell us about your…

Favorite local business:

Address:

Web site:

Why you like them:

Same Feeling of Being Right at Home (Bookstore Spotlight by Carolyn J. Rose)

Readers and writers in and around Cover to Cover Books in Vancouver, Washington, are so fond of the store that many of them pitched in to help owner Mel Sanders unpack, reshelve, and alphabetize 450 boxes of books rescued from a fire in the fall of 2010.

They turned out to pay back favors given. Over the years Mel has gone the extra mile to support area authors, providing a venue for the Vancouver Writers Mixers and the Ghost Town Poetry Open Microphone evenings.

 They turned out because so many small businesses—and so many bookstores—are closing and they wanted to insure that Cover to Cover would have a good start in its post-fire location. (6300 NE Saint James Road, Suite 104B, Vancouver, WA, 98663)

They turned out in solidarity because Mel is also a writer. She’s been published in Under the Rose, a Norilana Books anthology of the fantastic, and in various e-books.

They turned out because Mel brews up some terrific espresso, because Smedley the bookstore cat loves company, and because Cover to Cover has comfortable chairs, and a cheerful ambiance, even on cold and rainy days.

Finally, they turned out because it was another opportunity to get together and talk about books, to browse through books, to breathe in the scent of books.

Cover to Cover has about 20,000 books—new and used—on the shelves. Every time I visit I find books I haven’t seen before—books Mel bought at estate sales, books brought in by book scouts, books taken in trade from customers. Every time I visit, no matter how high my to-be-read pile, I buy books.

Mel displays books by area authors, including all nine of mine. She also provides opportunities for writers to discuss writing craft and launch their latest projects. I plan to be there soon with copies of my tenth work, a suspense novel called An Uncertain Refuge, and the eleventh, a love story set in 1966 called A Place of Forgetting, and due out this fall.

Website: www.covertocoverbooks.net

Twitter: www.twitter.com/C2Cbooks

Phone: 360-993-7777

E-mail: mail@covertocoverbooks.net

Carolyn J. Rose is the author of ten novels. She grew up in New York’s Catskill Mountains, graduated from the University of Arizona, logged two years in Arkansas with Volunteers in Service to America, and spent 25 years as a television news researcher, writer, producer, and assignment editor in Arkansas, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington. She lives in Vancouver, Washington, and her hobbies are reading, gardening, and not cooking. Surf to www.deadlyduomysteries.com to learn more.

 

Once Upon a Crime (Bookstore Spotlight by Carl Brookins)

Just down the street from Nicollet Avenue on Sixth Street, is an unremarkable three-story brick building of apartments. Its back door faces a poorly lit, unevenly paved alley, with a couple of narrow parking spaces. The basement houses two retail establishments with neon advertising in the half-windows. Over one flight of stone steps is a dark canopy covering steps that lead down half-a flight to a room filled with floor to ceiling shelves. The wooden shelves are crowded with books.

Nearly all of the 60,000+ books are works of crime fiction. This is the home of Once Upon A Crime, Minneapolis’s award winning premier mystery book store. It has been so for twenty-four years. Present owners are Gary Shulz and Pat Frovarp, two of the most knowledgeable people in the field. If you need a specific book, chances are they’ll have it. If they don’t have it they can usually get it for you.

If you’re looking for something in the field to read, Pat or Gary will ask you some leading questions and promptly point you to authors/books that are almost guaranteed to fill your needs.

I asked why they would invest in a bookstore of all things and Gary said he needed a change after 30 years and Pat suggested that the former owner, Steve Stilwell was ready to retire. The store filled an important need, therefore should be rescued. So, for nine blissful (their word, not mine) years P & G have done just that, admirably filling the mission and meanwhile, picking up a few important awards along the way.

The mission of Once Upon a Crime, along with breaking even financially, is to promote local mystery writers and to maintain as comprehensive a backlist as humanly possible. Along the way they love exposing great midlist authors that readers might miss.

Awards? Yes, they’ve managed to collect a few, in 2009 CrimeSpree Magazine’s favorite bookstore award and “Best Hole in the Wall,” from Metro Magazine. Then just this year, Mystery Writers of America awarded Once Upon a Crime a Raven.

Among the many crime fiction writers who have commented:

Author PETER MAY said: “Pat and Gary are two of the nicest and most knowledgeable folk on the subject of mysteries that you are ever likely to meet!

Along the way, Pat and Gary have experienced some interesting events. They got married at the store a few years ago, and more recently acquired Shamus, a three-year old Store Dog.

Author WILLIAM KENT KRUEGER said: “I think OUAC is a really good bookstore because they usually know what I want to read even before I walk into the store. And even if they aren’t exactly on target, by the time I walk out, I’m always happy with what they’ve convinced me I should have wanted when I came in.”

Next year the store will celebrate 25 years in business and the tenth anniversary of WRITE OF SPRING, a massive annual one-day gathering of local authors, readers and assorted hangers-on. WRITE OF SPRING is a terrific event and lots of fun besides. An anthology of short crime fiction will debut at about the time of the tenth. The stories are all written by past attendees with profits from sale of the anthology to be donated to local Memorial Blood Centers.

Author ELLEN HART said: “All indie bookstores have a specific character. OUAC is no different. It’s cozy, funky in a Minnesota kind of way, comfortable, and always welcoming. It’s not only a good bookstore, it’s a great one because the people who run it (Pat & Gary) love books and share that passion with their customers.”

Although, because Pat was already working there and Gary was a frequent customer, the store lost two good customers when they bought the place, their dedication, hard work, and expertise has made the store a warm and welcoming place for authors and readers alike.

Along with WOS, of course, Pat and Gary host many book events for visiting and local authors. The schedule can be found at their website, http://www.onceuponacrimebooks.com/.

Their phone number is 612-870-3785, and their email address is onceuponacrime@earthlink.net. Next time you are up our way, drop by and join the thousands who find warm and welcoming hosts behind that door under the canopy.

Carl Brookins:

Before he became a mystery writer and reviewer, Brookins was a faculty member at Metropolitan State University in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He has reviewed mystery fiction for the Saint Paul Pioneer Press and for Mystery Scene Magazine. His reviews appear on his own blog and on several other Crime Fiction blogs and Internet sites. Brookins is an avid sailor and has sailed in many locations across the world. He is a member of Sisters in Crime, and Private Eye Writers of America. He can be found touring bookstores and libraries with his companions-in-crime, The Minnesota Crime Wave. He writes the sailing series featuring Michael Tanner and Mary Whitney,(Devils Island)  the Sean Sean private investigator detective series,(The Case of the Great Train Robbery), and the Jack Marston academic series. (Reunion) Several short stories published by Echelon Press are available for download.

 

Above and Beyond (Bookstore Spotlight by J.A. Campbell)

Calico Books is a new and used bookstore in Broomfield, Colorado. It is owned by the same people who own Booklovers in Fort Collins, Colorado and their daughter, Becky, runs the store. I first met Becky through a mutual friend. As soon as Becky found out I was a soon to be published Author, she started talking about trying to help promote my writing. We hit it off right away and chat regularly. 

Calico Books’ services include accepting used books in trade for store credit, new and used books, and promoting local authors. They also order hard to find, out of print and new books for customers, have a watch and reserve list and provide free coffee. They are dog friendly, and even have treats on hand. Becky also tries to have events regularly for customers and authors, so watch the store calendar. 

One of the things that we put together and are still experimenting with is our Remote Author events.  “The Remote Author Event was conceived when I was discussing with a couple friends, via twitter, how I’d love to be able to support them and their writing. The catch was, that their books were either in eBook format… or they didn’t live in Colorado,” says Becky. 

So we chatted via twitter and gtalk and came up with a way to have local authors and remote authors visit the store. 

“In this way, Calico Books can host eBook authors as “Host Authors” and sponsor their novels (although we cannot sell them, ourselves) while also being able to sell a not-so-local author’s books and have them visit the shop without airfare, hotels, or food bills to worry about. Granted, I’ve focused on Local Authors for my new-book section in the shop, but with the digital age… I’m more than happy to help support others who are further away along with getting to support our locals whose books are in digital format.” 

It’s a great opportunity to find ways to keep independent bookstores in the loop during the push towards eBooks. 

“Why bother with this Remote Author Event over a traditional signing? Because the traditional methods are very quickly going to become out-dated. Digital books are being published far more readily than print-books. This isn’t to say that print-books are going by the wayside, but there has been a huge surge in the sheer amount of published books through the availability of eBooks. A publisher can far more easily “take a chance” on an eBook than a print-book and the initial release of the eBook may very well lead to a print-contract.” 

So stop on by for some free coffee and good reads. Becky’s vast knowledge of books will be sure to assist you in finding just the right book, even if it happens to be digital.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CalicoBooks

Twitter: @CalicoBooks

Web site/Blog: http://blog.calicobooks.com/

J.A. Campbell (Julie) writes fantasy novels. When she’s not out riding her horse, she can usually be found sitting in front of her computer with a cat on her lap and her dog at her side. Her first young adult novel, Senior Year Bites, is now available at a number of retailers, including Kindle.

Following the Dream (Bookstore Spotlight by Ellis Vidler)

“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:

Twitter: @FictnAddictn

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/FictionAddictionBookstore

A Handshake:
1020 Woodruff Road
Greenville, SC 29607
(864) 675-0540

 

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.

My Thoughts on Promotion Today (Guest Blogger)

We are experiencing a time of great changes in the publishing industry. Having been e-pubbed since before there was anything but a computer to read an e-book on, and then being the proud of owner of a Rocket eBook with a couple of other readers after that and now a Kindle, it’s exciting to see the way e-books have gained popularity—finally.

The publishers I’m with do both e-books and print and in the past I’ve done better with the print books but I’m seeing the e-books gaining.

My marketing strategy has always been a combination of online promotion and in-person events. I’ve attended as many as four mystery or writing conventions or conferences in a year with all the expense that entails—airfare, hotel room, meals. In the past, I did some bookstore signings in places where I didn’t have to travel too far. Over the years those have become less and less successful. I like to do craft and book festivals and with these you never know, but for me they are always more successful than a straight book signing. Library events are usually good if I have a topic that will interest a lot of readers.

For online promotion, of course I do Facebook and Twitter, both fun and a good way to promote other online things you’re doing like blog tours and special sales—and you can promote the in-person events as well. I’m on a number of lists as well. For each new book I do a blog tour.

Now, that brings me to what my future plans will be.

For this year, I was signed up for a mystery conference that was cancelled; costing me a lot as far as my non-returnable airline tickets was concerned. I’ve spoken at the annual meeting of a local historical society (fun and sold books), I gave a presentation at two different chapters of the California Writers Club, and I have a book launch planned at a nearby used bookstore. (I’ve done four at this bookstore and they’ve been quite successful.)

My schedule from now on is full.

I’m a guest speaker for a Reading Club, on a Sisters in Crime panel being held in a city about 3 hours away, I’m speaking at a college about 4 hours away, heading to a Las Vegas Sisters in Crime meeting as the guest speaker, where I’ll be staying with my sister, appearing with two other authors at another library.

This summer I’m combining a vacation with my daughter and husband to go to Sedona where I’ve arranged for a library talk with another author as well as a bookstore presentation. I also am giving a talk at a bookstore in a mountain community where I take my own books for sale with a better discount than most bookstores give. This is a great independent and I’ve made friends with many of the locals who have also become fans of my books.

A big event for me is the Public Safety Writers Conference in Las Vegas http://www.policewriter.com because not only am I the program chair, but I’ve made friends with lots of folks in law enforcement who are a great resource. This conference is open to anyone.

I am going to Killer Nashville this year mainly so I don’t lose all of the money from the airline ticket I bought for the cancelled conference. I do have friends who are going to that one too.

Click for More Photos of Marilyn

In September I’m going to be a presenter for the Central Coast Writers Conference. I no longer go to a writer’s conference unless I can be a speaker. I enjoy helping new writers. On Sunday after the conference is the annual Central Coast Book Festival and I’ve had a booth there for several years and of course I’ll be doing it again this year.

In October I’ll have a booth for two days at the Springville Apple Festival which is in the town I live in. This is a great event where I always sell lot of book. At the end of the month I’ll be starting on the Mystery Cruise to Mexico. This is also a writers’ conference. First time, so I have no idea how it will turn out—but cruises are great.

In December, I’ll have a table with my books in an Art Gallery along with the artist’s Christmas boutique. I’ve done this every year and each year it gets better.

As the year progresses, I’ve made some decisions about what I will do next year. Of course I’ll continue on with all the online promotion. I’ll read all my lists closely, especially Murder Must Advertise for new ideas. But I’ve decided that from now I’ll only go to conventions that are easy to get to which means Left Coast Crime in Sacramento will be my choice for 2012. Oh, I’ll still go to the PSWA conference because it’s in a place I can drive to—and being able to drive somewhere easily will be a decision maker as to where I’ll go.

I’d like to know what your plans include—and I hope that something I’ve mentioned may have give you some ideas for promotion you haven’t tried yet.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F.M. Meredith
http://fictionforyou.com
Twitter: @MarilynMeredith
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/marilyn.meredith
Marilyn’s Musings Blog: http://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com/