My last blog post (before the interruption to comment on the loss of Nora Ephron) was about bad news--at least from my perspective--But good news cometh around in the form of books, bookstores and blogging. How’s that for keeping the alliteration going?
First, books. Bowker, who tracks those things, says that in 2011, print book publishing rose by six percent. In another list Bowker tracks what they call “reprint/print on demand” titles and those rose 15 percent since 2009. Of course we know that more e-books are sold than print books these days, according to Amazon who ought to know, but the rise in print books published (but not necessarily sold) is unexpected and welcome. If only half of them are sold, it proves what recent studies show: that e-book buyers buy print books as well. In fact, another study shows that people who borrow e-books from libraries buy more e-books than those who don’t. E-book readers are apparently the real book lovers.
Second: bookstore openings are up. So said an article about the Association of U.S. booksellers (or someone else. I can no longer find the link but trust me I remember it correctly.) In fact, they rose for four of the past five years. Sure, they went down in the previous five or more years, but that was more the fault of the giant chain bookstores cutting into independent’s sales, not the proliferation of e-books. So why would someone decide--in 2011--to open a bookstore? Sure, buyers can order online, but bookstores have always been more than a place to buy books. They were a pleasant place to go, to meet and greet, to explore the literary landscape before making a purchase. Small bookstores are springing up in small towns and in select neighborhoods of big cities, filling that need.
New stores, or those who are surviving the huge changes in the publishing industry, move with the times. They offer a cozy atmosphere for browsing, and sell coffee and snacks. In addition, many stores offer e-books, as well as the devises for them on the site. Another wonderful innovation is that some stores have a “self-published books” section where local authors can place their books on consignment. Obviously, this attracts authors--who are also book buyers--as well as local residents who want to see and buy what people in their neighborhood are writing. A caveat at some such stores is that if they don’t sell a copy of a self-published book in ninety days (or some other deadline) the books are returned to the author. That’s a lot better indication the book isn’t your best effort than getting a bunch of one-star reviews on Amazon.
One other innovation--one that might keep large bookstores in business-is the Electronic Book Machine, which a well-heeled, corporate-owned brick and mortar store could buy--and print and sell a book in fifteen minutes.
Finally, a post on “slow blogging” by Anne R. Allen validated my practice of sharing my thoughts only once a week. Plus time off for bad behavior. I won’t risk being trampled by elephants.
So, fellow writers, if you’re self-publishing, have you found a bookstore that will take your work? If so, tell me about it.
Anne R. Allen