How many copies do you need?

20130530-102758.jpg That’s the question I asked myself when I saw four copies of Outliers and three copies of The Tipping Point at the downtown public library. Does the library need that much Malcolm Gladwell? Yet, I can hardly find seven books written by Vonnegut. I was able to locate at least seven books by Hemingway but not all that much on Steinbeck. The experience got me thinking.

Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point is an interesting book, but how will it stand up over the years? It’s a bestseller now, but in 50 years, or 100 years, will it still be impacting readers?

Along a parallel track, will your favorite blogs have the same readership in 50 years? Some of the blogs I used to enjoy reading eight years ago have disappeared from the webosphere a few short years ago and the writer’s voice I looked forward to hearing is no longer there.

But books remain. Whatever their legacy, they have a space, or more, on the bookshelves of a library. At least for now.

Advice to authors regarding indie bookstores and Amazon.com

The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) offers advice to authors seeking to work with indie books stores:

  • Know the Marketplace
  • Know Who And How To Contact
  • Know the Terms (i.e. your business arrangement with the bookstore)
  • Don’t shoot yourself in the foot (avoid mentioning that you book is available on Amazon.com)

This is good advice for authors when working with indie booksellers. The operative words are “with indie booksellers.” Truth be told, the majority of the sales for books I’ve helped publish come from Amazon.com. The reason for this, I suspect, is that Amazon.com is where the masses go to buy books.

Know that I am a big supporter of indie bookstores. But I’m also practical and know that indie bookstores attract a niche audience of readers. Some book titles do better at indie bookstores than others. For example, if you’re a local writer with a book on regional hiking trails or you’re a local poet with a book, you may do better at an indie store than on Amazon.com. That being said, Amazon offers a 45/55 terms of sale (a smidge better than indie stores offering a 40/60 terms of sales). That may not seem like much, but if you’re a small publisher, that 5% difference may cover cost of shipping products to bookstores which directly impacts breakeven numbers for book titles.

As an author (or small press publisher), know that you have sales options. And avoid mentioning Amazon.com when working with indie booksellers — it gives them ulcers.

Link: How To Market Your Book to Independent Bookstores