In Store, or Not In Store…

Since a wire got crossed somewhere, consider this a post-haste post in lieu of the normally posted publishing post.

While it is not as important as it used to be, there’s still something about seeing your work on the shelf for sale beside books by other “real” authors. However, for indie writers, and small press as well, even some medium presses, that used to be dang near impossible. That might be changing, especially for those who use Ingram-Spark/ Lightningsource for print volumes.

On the other hand… “Independent booksellers often talk about their tight bonds with their local communities, and, increasingly, one of the many ways in which they are engaging with those communities is by stocking self-published titles by local writers. For years, the libertarian and frequently contrarian nature of independent authors was at odds with the requirements of bricks-and-mortar indies; self-published authors were empowered by the emergence of online retailers that produced, published, and sold their works, and they didn’t consider how those books would be sold in physical stores. But the relationship between indie authors and indie bookstores has evolved, and numerous booksellers are willing to stock self-published titles—albeit within certain limitations.”

One interesting note farther into the article is that some bookstores require proof that your book already has a market. Just like traditional publishers seem to.

Also, if you are on an Amazon imprint? Probably not. And your book needs to look like a traditionally published book. Among other things.

The entire article is interesting and offers food for thought for those of us who offer print as well as e-books. However, are we willing to keep-up with the trends in formatting, cover-design, et al to get stocked? And what if we don’t live in the county, but the independent book store is THE bookstore for a larger region?

H/T The Passive Voice


  1. For what it’s worth, I showed up with an advance copy of my Dragon Heresy RPG in the local game stores. Every one was polite, every one showed interest, and one immediately said “I want this on my shelf” and said when the mass copies show up (next week!), he’d take two.

    It never hurts to walk around with your wares. That being said, large chain stores take their buying decisions from a menu provided to them from on high, so finding locally-owned shops to carry your locally-published book is key.

  2. The local indy bookstore used to be very welcoming and supportive of local authors, when they were in a location on a stretch of old main street which went through the old-money wealthiest part of town. I had a number of events there for my earlier books which were very successful.
    But … they moved to a very upscale location in a new urban development, and I think they changed management, or at least, their focus. We had the distinct impression that they wanted to focus more on kid’s books, rather than local authors … and other local writers besides me had less than happy experiences. Books on consignment lost, no record kept of sales, no communication with the authors …
    It just wasn’t working out well any more. And the last time I was in the place, it was all socially-conscious-politically-correct books and virtue-signalling signage.

    1. Erk. That’s not a good situation at all. 😦 It’s amazing how important the local manager is for an independent or regional bookstore. I hope they find someone to return to the previous model after “get Woke go broke” kicks in.

      1. We ignored the interests of our clientele, went all in for PC woke materials, refused to consider conservative or just fun and exciting writers works, and now we can no longer make the rent or pay our workers.
        I guess people just don’t read any more.

  3. When you use Ingram Spark for POD you get to set the parameters for sales with vendors such as discount rate and most importantly whether returns are allowed. Then it’s up to those vendors to order the books they want from IS. One significant gotcha, no vendor will order books if you disallow returns, but should you allow them you can find that months after you’ve been paid for copies by Ingram you suddenly have a debit due to returns. You not only owe back the money Ingram paid you, but also the production cost of the book itself. They will then of course send you the returned books for a shipping charge. This is especially dangerous shortly after the yearly inventory book sellers conduct for tax purposes.

  4. *sigh*

    Not really an option around here. No indy bookstores, and with B&N deciding that they’re going up for sale, the only option I know of is going to be, well, Oregon. (The Bay Area reportedly has independent bookstores. Somehow I don’t think they’d be welcoming.)

    1. If PG’s news piece a few weeks ago about one of the indie book stores in the Bay Area was correct, then no, probably not, unless you write activist fiction centered on the survivor story of a victim of anti-LGBTQAYSMYMMV patriarchy and racism.

  5. Ingram and American Distributeors are making it easier for public libraries to get copies of indie titles as well.

    The whole e-book revolution is making for interesting times. (Q: It is the best-selling indie title on Amazon, why won’t Overdrive stock it? A: They can’t. Q: ?!? We got the major library distributors to stock GNs and manga, why can’t we– A: New paradigm. We can’t)

    I know the MGs and I have different priorities viz libraries, but I think we can agree that more options, more platforms are a win.

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