How about purely Indie bookstores?
September 8, 2014
A few days ago Libby Hellmann’s blog about Indie authors and bookstores got me to thinking.
As she pointed out Indie authors face quite a dilemma when it comes to finding shelf space for their books in brick and mortar stores. Although bookstores have access to these books if the author uses a distributor like Lightning Source or Create Space, those bookstores are not usually willing to order Indie books. Plus authors have to deal with the tradition of returns, which in essence is a self-defeating cycle. If the author is able to place a book in a mainstream bookstore, and it doesn’t sell right away, the bookstore will “return” the book and the author will be out her sales.
As I have considered this, I have been toying with the notion that a missing link for Indie paper books is a network of purely Indie bookstores. By that I mean bookstores that carry only Indie-written books, not book stores that offer a smattering of Indie titles along side a main course of James Patterson and John Grisham.
Such bookstores would represent the real world of books and authors as it exists today in the digital world.
Here is a model I propose. The bookstore would be open to all Indie authors as a place to showcase their books, with the only qualifier being the genres the store decided to carry. For instance, a store might cater to mainstream fiction, thrillers, sci-fi, fantasy, romance, inspirational books or what have you and not carry books in other genres.
To make the process truly cutting edge, the bookstore would allow authors to price their books. To allow the stores, which might be running on a shoe-string budget to begin with, to carry a large inventory of books, authors would provide their books on consignment. Under this model the store would not purchase the books, but would only earn a commission (say 40%) when a book sells. The author would receive the remaining sixty percent of the sale, but would bear her costs for producing the book and shipping it to the store (or delivering it in person). This approach would also eliminate the dreaded return policy. To be sure the bookstore would be captive to its shelf space, so that it might have to limit the number of copies it could receive of a single title, or the number from a specific author. The devil would be in the details but the concept is sound.
A purely Indie bookstore would offer a wide range of new titles by fine writers and allow the book buying public to discover a new wave of writers who have been shut out from corporate owned-stores.
I would really like to hear your thoughts on this concept.