Where Do You Buy Your Books?
To me, this week's cover on The New Yorker reached the heart of one of the book buying issues for publishers and consumers. It's hard to see on the little image that I'm including with this post but a shopkeeper is unlocking the door to his bookstore. Next door, the UPS man is delivering a box to a woman. In tiny letters which you can see on the actual cover, the box says, "AMAZON.COM."
The irony is evident that a woman lives next door to a bookstore yet purchases her books from Amazon because of the convenience (24 hours a day) or the price or some other factor.
Several years ago, a writer friend told me with great authority, "I never buy books online but only buy them from my local independent bookstore." Now that's an interesting comment but I suspect such a commitment to the local bookstore is rare.
While I purchase books, I treat shopping for books like I would any other product. I'm searching for the best possible price as much as the particular place where I get the book. When I purchase an airline ticket, I check a number of different online places before I make my purchase. I go through the same process when I purchase books. Normally I go to BookFinder4U and enter the book title or the author's name. This tool will search many different online bookstores and calculate the total price of the book--including the postage. Simultaneously this tool searches new and used books. You determine where you want to purchase your book and the condition of that particular book (new or used).
Also I buy books at the bookstore but much less frequently than I have in the past and I suspect this trend is true with many others.
My encouragement to you as a writer is to be aware of where people are purchasing books--and make sure your book is available in as many different venues and formats as possible. Some people prefer audio books while others travel and would rather have your book in an Ebook format which they can download and use on the road. If you discover that your publisher has not made your book available in a particular place (even to be ordered), then gently plan a strategy to resolve this matter. I say gently because you do not want to become a nuisance to your publisher--but you do want to be a proactive author who cares about selling books and knowledgeable about how books are sold.
For example, when the small press, Write Now Publications, did not have the search inside feature activated for my Book Proposals That Sell, I researched a tiny bit on Amazon and discovered the author can resolve this matter. It involved filling out a simple release form for Amazon and mailing them a physical book. Then it took a bit of time but eventually Amazon scanned the pages and activated this feature for Book Proposals That Sell. See how I was proactive to increase the sales of my book without being a nuisance to my publisher? Many people use that search inside the book feature on Amazon to make a buying decision so you want to have that tool active for your books.
The marketplace is ever changing in this area as publishers and authors look for new venues and ways to sell their books. It's something else you can also consider for your Writing Life.