The flogged horse
I ordered an iPad yesterday. Also, I ran into Diane Capriola, an owner at Little Shop of Stories. She HIGHLY RECOMMENDED I read Amber Dermont’s new book The Starboard Sea. I mean, over the top, “read it or never talk to me again” recommended it.
This is what independent booksellers do best, they connect books to readers. Amazon doesn’t do that well, and never will.
So how do I pay Diane for connecting me with that book? Of course, I can go buy a paper copy at the store, but I’ve ordered a new toy, and I want to try reading on a Retina Display ™. (That ™ is snark, in case you missed that.)
So I need to buy the ebook through the Little Shop website, right?
Okay, I actually took on that project. I started to document it, but after twenty five minutes, I no longer had the patience to write it all down. At this point, I’ve actually paid for the book, but I’ve put off the rest of the process for now. I’m waiting for the iPad to arrive before I actually download and install the thing. It is frustrating and awkward, and something only the most ardent of locavores would engage in. I’ve set up a Drupal website more quickly.
Also, right in the midst of it, I found that I was actually paying Google for the book, not Little Shop. I dare not guess what percent Little Shop gets in kick back, but I’m sure it’s a trifle. I didn’t exactly get a warm fuzzy from the experience.
I’m sorry, but this is a big part of the future of booksales, and they can’t ask their customers to stay in the 20th century with them. Most good indie booksellers own the hearts of their customers, but lose their wallets.
Never forget: People prize convenience above all, and they’ll pay for it. When the music industry was drowning in the sea of Napster, Apple paddled in with the iTunes raft. What people forget is that Apple got folks to start paying for their online music instead of stealing it through Napster. How? Convenience. They paid for what they could have had for free because it was easy.
I work with indies every day, I consider these folks to be my friends. I have more motivation than most to buy from them. But if I don’t want paper, they make it very, very hard to support them
A couple things I’d like to see from the Indie stores in general. This would require a real push from the American Booksellers Association, and couldn’t happen on a store by store basis.
1. Fix the dang app. Let me shop and buy from within the program, and let me pick my favorite bookstore to benefit. I’d love to buy a book with one or two taps while sitting in my living room, and to have my local benefit.
2. People with iPads and Androids are your customers too. Don’t try to guilt them into buying a product that isn’t optimal for them (paper books). Guilt is not a sustainable business model. If they don’t want to buy electronically right then, print them out a little QR page with the title listed. If they get home and decide they want it, they can scan it and you get paid. Offer your service (matching books with readers) to electronic customers, and expand your customer base.
3. Use bookstores as showrooms. This is sacrilege, of course, but there should be a QR code on display with the top twenty books you are selling. The code should take the customer to an easy download/purchase window within the indie app, where one click gets the customer the book while a commission goes to the bookseller.
4. Stop looking at this either/or. Sell paper books, and ebooks, online and instore. When I recommend a book online, I link to the Amazon site because its easy. If I could do it easily within an indie bookstores site, I would much prefer to.
5. Have fun with it. If you are in a walking part of town, post a QR code in your window each night for an after-hours discount recommendation. See if anyone buys. Offer the #1 Bestseller for 99 cents for the first person that scans it, and then with a 10% discount for the rest of the night. It’ll get you some press. The best booksellers are creative and energetic, and their stores exude that spirit. Bring that creativity to the ebook realm.
6. Customer Data. The ABA should build up a customer database, and use that as an effective way to negotiate away from Google, and send more money to its stores. This is more of a long term thing, but not impossible.
Just make it easier for us to support you. Most of us will pay.
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