Logo

 Social Media Icon Social Media Icon Social Media Icon Social Media Icon Social Media Icon

Posts Tagged ‘bookselling’

Can Indie Bookstores Matter?

The book business has always struck me as a bit bipolar, prone to bouts of dire pessimism followed by flights of exaggerated optimism.

Continue Reading…


The “Value Proposition” of Publishers in the Digital Age

Just recently, Bowker published a report that offers a fascinating picture of the migration of book sales to online retailers. (Bowker is the industry’s key source of bibliographic data and market research.) For publishers, this data isn’t really news. They know full well just how dramatically online sales are growing.

Continue Reading…


“That’s New to Me”—Book Marketers Please Take Note

In a recent postMike Shatzkin took note of how some publishers were reshaping their publishing lists around their core strengths and strategic vision.  Along the way, Mike offers his view on how the diminished role of booksellers and the rise of online discovery may effect sales of publisher backlist titles.

When digital first started to happen, it seemed like the backlist might be the biggest beneficiary. After all, stores had limited shelf space and online merchants can “carry” all the books they want, particularly if there is no pre-purchased inventory required. (There isn’t for ebooks and there increasingly isn’t for printed books either, which can be purchased from wholesalers for next day delivery, even if they are printed on demand!)

But, Mike goes on to say that, “it turns out that the current state-of-the-art for merchandising and presentation of books online is not very helpful to backlist.” I have a somewhat different view on this.

Continue Reading…


The Best & Worst of Traditional Publishing

A recent blog post on“Writing on the Ether,” by Porter Anderson—an always a very thoughtful and nuanced journalist and commentator on the publishing industry—got me thinking about what seem to be common misperceptions authors and readers hold about what traditional trade publishers do, what they do well, and what they do not-so-well.

In commenting on Porter’s post, I wrote “One function of traditional publishers is as an investor in future revenue” — in other words that “publishers subsidize some portion of their published list.”

Porter replied, “There’s a concept on the street now that advances have fallen apart and publishers are investing very little at all in their new authors. So while your point is right, I’m not sure it will fall on very receptive ears in a community that has largely decided the traditional publishers are abdicating their own leadership.” Continue Reading…


The Future of the End of Bookstores

First off, accept my apologies in advance for the length of this post. Over the past several weeks, I’ve been ruminating about the future of bookstores, if there is one, what it might be. This is the likely the last post on bookstores that I’ll write for a while, for reasons that will become clear.

Kepler’s 2020

I just recently attended  Kepler’s 2020, an unusual gathering of nearly 80 booksellers, publishers, book industry service providers, librarians, and members of the Menlo Park community in Silicon Valley, where Kepler’s Bookstore is located. The gathering took place over two-and-a-half very packed days of conversation and debate. Publishers represented included Sourcebooks, Chelsea Green, Chronicle Books, and Workman Publishing. Also represented were folks from Village Books (Bellingham, Washington), Book Shop Santa Cruz, and Booksmith and City Lights (both in San Francisco).

Continue Reading…


A SWOT Team for Indie Bookstores (part 1)

The story of the end of bookstores is an old one, almost as old as bookstores themselves, I would bet. And while it has always been a miserable way to make a living, the fundamental business model of the bookstore is now in question like it never has before. The story has quickly shifted from a drama about whether bookstores can survive to a tragedy of their sure death.

I confess, though I was a bookseller for several years, and love bookstores, and what they do, I don’t feel the romance or nostalgia that many book lovers do. Fundamentally, bookstores are just businesses. If the business model—that of renting space to stock inventory and paying employees to sell printed books—doesn’t work—even with all the add-ons of cafes, side-line merchandise, paid author events, etc.—then it doesn’t work. I don’t mean this coldly, but if the value that physical bookstores provide isn’t sufficient to cover the costs of providing that value then I think we ought to move on. As booklovers, booksellers, and publishers—we ought to move on and create a new model for providing that unique value.

Continue Reading…


The End of the Beginning of the Future of Bookstores

I have the great good fortune of living in Cambridge, Mass., a city where there are still quite a few fine bookstores. There’s the Harvard Bookstore, Grolier (dedicated to poetry) the Harvard COOP (operated by B&N), and Schoenhof’s Foreign Books–all near by in Harvard Square. And there’s the excellent Porter Square Books a bit further off in North Cambridge. There are also a few very good used bookstores: Raven Books (in Harvard Square), the fabulous Lorem Ipsum Books, near where I live in Inman Square, and Rodney’s in Central Square, in mid-Cambridge, and two or three other smaller used bookstores.

Continue Reading…