I remember in the good old days (6 months ago) when authors on Verla Kay’s blue boards would fret when Borders and Barnes & Nobles didn’t pick up their books.
Why did they worry so much?
Because those major chains not picking up their books meant the slow and terrible death of their first and probably only print run. If a book wasn’t in the major chains, almost no one would see it, almost no one would buy it, which meant no one could read it and love it.
So let’s explore the diminishing shelf space at the bookstores that are left and then figure out what it means for authors and self promotion.
Now, we can debate the health of indie bookstores, and the two remaining chains, B&N and Books-A-Million, but pretty much every account I’ve read says that print sales are down and ebook sales are up. I’m confident the end result is the Big 6 publishing fewer books in print, which means fewer print sales, which is bad for the publisher/bookseller bottom line.
Here’s a quote from Bob Mayer from his post, eBooks as the new mass market paper back and don’t be a Buridan’s ass. (Don’t get caught in indecision.)
The big cloud I’m seeing on the horizon is the growing awareness in NY that they need to revise the way they view the eBook. It’s not competition for their print sales, it’s part of their overall revenue stream. I predict we will see a lot more books from the Big 6 priced under $5 in the coming months. I think there will be more direct to eBook publishing, where the book might never even come out in print.
To sum up, Kris talks about less books, less authors and less shelf space. I’m sure most of you don’t need to read about her experience to understand what’s happening to bookstores. But go ahead and read it anyway.
And one more by Anne R. Allen in her recent post, What will publishing look like in 2021.
Anne predicts that due to bookstores downsizing their inventory, print will be reduced to gift books, celebrity books, bibles, coffee table books, small children pop-ups, top selling superstar books. (Hopefully this is in the far future!)
I’m adding this link by historical romance author, Courtney Milan. An open letter to agents.
Courtney addresses agents in an open letter. Published authors and unpublished writers alike are talking. We’re looking for answers. Basically, agents need to show how they can make their top selling authors more money than self publishing. No publishing arm. No 15% commission for something we can do ourselves. It’s a must read.
Let’s circle back to the authors who used to worry about their books being in the big chains or not. I think today, authors will be lucky if their books stay in Barnes & Nobles longer than a few months, if it even makes it into the bookstore at all.
So sure, a book appearing in a bookstore would be wonderful – as writers isn’t that our dream? But I don’t think that’s what will make or break a career anymore. I’m not sure the biggest concern should be how to publish. (self pub vs traditional)
- Writers need focus on producing a book that causes word of mouth grassroots sales, where bookstore sales would just be the icing on the cake.
- Writers need to seriously think about their plans to market themselves and their books.
What do you think?