Category Archives: Industry News

Print Books vs. EBooks–the Result

Three years ago, in 2011, I wrote a blog post about how independent bookstores were not going to be crushed by the eBook. Here’s the blog for proof. http://www.classicsusedbooks.com/?p=474

In the three years that passed, sales at independent bookstores (selling real physical books) grew about 8 percent a year for three years running while eBook sales have leveled off at about 33% off the market (outsold by both hard covers and paperbacks).

In that blog, I reasoned that cries of disaster were just Chicken Little alarms and listed the sorts of book lovers that would never leave real books for eBooks. Here’s that link again in case you forgot to check it out when I gave it to you in the first paragraph. http://www.classicsusedbooks.com/?p=474

In addition to the reasons I gave three years ago, here’s another reason eBooks have leveled off in their appeal. While they have some great things going for them (it’s easier to carry 150 books in digital format, for example), EBooks have turned out to be not as cheap as promised. First you aren’t going to buy a best seller for 99 cents. Second, the cost of the machine (and its upgrades) has to be factored into the cost. If you only read a handful of books a year, real books (especially used books) are far cheaper. If you read lots of books, you are more likely to fall into the categories of people who love physical books, like to browse books and like to belong to a community of readers—all people who love their real books.

Here’s some other people’s thoughts on the subject:

Print Books vs. E Books

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/06/ebooks-print-books-outsold_n_5940654.html

Independent stores vs. Amazon

http://www.slate.com/articles/business/the_edgy_optimist/2014/09/independent_bookstores_rising_they_can_t_compete_with_amazon_and_don_t_have.html

readin-in

readin-in


Grants for independent bookstores from James Patterson

If you know a bookstore who is committed to getting books to kids, you can recommend them for a one-time grant!
“Best-selling thriller writer James Patterson has pledged to give $1 million to struggling independent bookstores. The novelist… … says he will hand out money to ‘viable’ bookstores, with the proviso that they contain a children’s section. … Patterson said he would pay some of the money directly to worthy booksellers ‘who haven’t had a bonus in seven years.’ “
If you know of any independent bookstores who provide books for children, you can recommend them at this website.  http://www.jamespatterson.com/booksellers/

Neil Gaiman on Bad Books for Children

As reported in The Guardian.  “I don’t think there is such a thing as a bad book for children. Every now and again it becomes fashionable among some adults to point at a subset of children’s books, a genre, perhaps, or an author, and to declare them bad books, books that children should be stopped from reading. I’ve seen it happen over and over; Enid Blyton was declared a bad author, so was RL Stine, so were dozens of others. Comics have been decried as fostering illiteracy.

“It’s tosh. It’s snobbery and it’s foolishness. There are no bad authors for children, that children like and want to read and seek out,  because every child is different. They can find the stories they need to, and they bring themselves to stories. A hackneyed, worn-out idea isn’t hackneyed and worn out to them. This is the first time the child has encountered it. Do not discourage children from reading because you feel they are reading the wrong thing. Fiction you do not like is a route to other books you may prefer. And not everyone has the same taste as you.

“Well-meaning adults can easily destroy a child’s love of reading: stop them reading what they enjoy, or give them worthy-but-dull books that you like, the 21st-century equivalents of Victorian “improving” literature. You’ll wind up with a generation convinced that reading is uncool and worse, unpleasant.”

For the complete article on “Why our Future Depends on Libraries, Reading and Daydreaming” visit http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/oct/15/neil-gaiman-future-libraries-reading-daydreaming

 


Support Your Community by Shopping Local

Another reason to support your local used bookstores.  They support you, your favorite restaurants, your schools, your churches, your neighbors, your nephew’s football team, your community choir.  The big box stores or Internet sites?  Not so much.

$100 spent at a local bookstore brings $45 worth of economic activity in the local community, while $100 spent at a large bookstore chain brings only $13 back to the community.

For more information, visit http://www.elocal.com/infographics/why-buy-local.html.


Can bookstores save eBooks and Amazon?

Marketer Penny Sansevieri makes an intriquing argument about the importance of bookstores, not just to the community, but to authors, both eBook and print, to Amazon’s publishing business, and to traditional publishing houses.   Read more.


The Noah’s Ark of Books

I understand many of the reasons one might like physical books over electronic books.  I had never considered the potential of the Internet imploding or computer viruses eating up all eBooks like some software program from Terminator!

Silicon Valley Internet businessman Brewster Kahle spent $3 million to buy and operate a book ark, saving solid paper books in the event of a massive loss of digital information. 

In an interview with the New York Times, linked below, Kahle reminds us that while the Internet seems like the ultimate infallible technology, “microfilm and microfiche were once a utopian vision of access to all information, but it turned out we were very glad to have kept the books.”

For the complete article, click here.

 


Advice for Self-Promoting Authors

Classics received a write up about the business of books in the blog www.writemoneyinc.com.   We covered used bookstores vs. big box chains, the future of books and promotional advice for self-published authors.

Here’s an excerpt concerning self-published authors.

WMI:   Booksellers have to be innovative to sell books. So too do authors. That shared, what advice would you give to authors who are seeking ways to sell more books in local bookstores? What three to four steps can authors take to increase the sale of their books at local stores?

EM:

#1. Promote your books at the stores that carry them. When you are selling the books personally, and therefore not giving a commission to a store, it is easy to justify just promoting your personal book sales and not your presence in stores.

However, many people who might not otherwise purchase your book might find shopping from a store more convenient and you can pick up additional sales. In addition, swapping links from your website to the store’s website makes both of your websites appear higher in the rankings of search engines.

#2. Come to the book signings of other authors. Frequently, authors will come to each other’s signings (as well as poetry readings and other events that don’t headline them personally), but still promote and sell their book.

#3. Organize a fundraiser. Authors who offer to donate 20% of their sales at a book signing to a particular charity, can more easily attract many more people who support that charity to their signing. Choosing the right charity is important as it needs to have an active base that shows up to events.

#4. Print a price on your book. I can think of specific examples of people who did not purchase a book because there was no printed price. Apparently this made them think the price was variable.

Read more: http://www.writemoneyinc.com/2012/03/20/rare-and-classic-bookseller-has-his-finger-on-the-pulse-of-an-east-coast-community/#ixzz1pquFBpfb


Johnathon Letham on Used Bookstores

I grew up working in used bookstores. I don’t even really like new books. I want books to be old and to have this weird talismanic property where they’ve had different owners, and they convey a sense of history. When my first novel came out, I asked the designers to make it look like a used book, which some people thought was brilliant, although some bookstores opened their boxes and returned them to the publisher because they thought they had gotten a damaged shipment.

Read more on Oprah.com: http://www.oprah.com/omagazine/Jonathan-Lethem-on-the-Future-of-Books-in-O-Magazine#ixzz1nB9UeeQZ


Is it the Death of the Printed Book?

I often get asked about what I am going to sell once the eBook has destroyed the printed book.  Lol.

People are alarmists.  They like to get worked up.  Just watch political commentators or weathermen.  Their ratings go up if they are wringing their hands about the imminent destruction of either the American Way of Life or the next weather pattern. When the predicted storm of the century turns out to be one inch of rain, well, no harm no foul. 

It’s that way with changes in media too.  When radio was becoming popular, commentators predicted the end of books.  When movies became popular, commentators predicted the end of radio…and books.  When TV became popular, people predicted the end of radio and movie theatres…and books.   Obviously all incorrect.  Did video kill the radio star?  Nope!  The radio star is still going strong.

So when people predict that eBooks will kill printed books, I have to yawn.

Now, I do believe that things in the industry will change.  My experience as an independent bookseller has been that the sort of customers who shopped big box stores are exactly the same type of customers who like eReaders, so there will be a battle for market share between these two.  Publishing houses may print dramatically smaller print runs of physical books.  On-line sources will take a bite out of reference materials like encyclopedias and dictionaries.  The text book industry is due for a big change.  But the accounts of the death of the book are exaggerated. 

As long as there are people who prefer a particular format, there will be businesses who will offer to sell it to them.  Best Buy carries vinyl records, for Pete’s sake.

Here are the sorts of readers who will keep buying books—

Sensualists

People who like the feel of a book in their hands find eReaders unsatisfying.  I have one customer who buys books from me and ships them off to have them carved out and reinforced so she can fit her Kindle into them and give her Kindle a real-book feel.  She loves her eReader, but it feels insubstantial to her. 

After he fourth purchase, I asked her how many Kindles she owned.  She told me that she owns one, but likes to swap out the covers like another person might swap IPhone cases.  That’s most excellent.

In addition to the physical sensualists, there are the visual sensualists.  People who like the looks of a room lined with bookcases filled with books.  The books become conversation starters, trophies of reading accomplishments and intimate revelations of the reader’s soul. 

Browsers

EBooks (and on-line sellers) are great for the people who know exactly what book they want.  But for people who want to wander the stacks and find something they didn’t know about, you need a brick-and-mortar bookstore.  If you want to explore books that are also out of print, you need a used bookstore.

Collectors

The people who search out and hoard first editions, limited releases, signed books will not be searching these things out in digital format. 

Parents

Board books are made for infants who are likely to put the book in their mouth.  Do you really want your eReader to go there?

Pop-up books?  When eReaders can produce a Richard Sabuda pop-up, I will be impressed!

Gift Givers

A wrapped book is a gift.  A copy of an email certificate for an eBook, not so much.  There are whole categories of gift books that need the printed form: coffee table books, oversized kids books, pop-up books, miniature stocking stuffer books, art books with art that deserves a venue larger than 10.1 inches.

Communitarians

Reading is a solitary act.  But bookstores are explosions of community.  Our bookstore has poetry readings, writing workshops, author-led discussions, Scrabble games, knitting clubs, and, up near the register, what Eric Jackson calls “one continual community meeting” arguing politics, literature, art, urban revitalization, raw foods vs. hamburgers, Jeopardy vs. Family Feud, or which Wonder Twin was the best.   Try to get that while shopping for an eBook.

In addition, these contacts help strengthen the community.  When the mural up the street was vandalized, the Scrabble club contributed to its renewal.  When they heard that our troops in Afghanistan were short helmet liners, the Trenton Knit and Stitch knitted and delivered a box of helmet liners.  After arguing near the register about the lack of publishing opportunities for Trenton writers and artists, the Trenton Review was born.  In the midst of a recession, from the contacts they made at this bookstore, two people were able to find jobs from the network of people they met in the bookstore.

People who value community and reading will always value bookstores and the books sold there.


Ann Patchett on the Triumph of Independent Boosktores

Ann Patchett writes in the New York Times about the triumph of the independent bookstores.

She writes,

Everything cycles back around. Things I didn’t think could ever make a comeback — Newt Gingrich and platform shoes — proved capable of startling resurgence. Now when someone tells me a trend is dead, I think, no, probably just dormant.

Take bookstores, for example. With the demise of the Borders chain and the shaky footing of Barnes and Noble, one might be tempted to write off the whole business. But as one who spent her summer on a book tour, I would like to offer this firsthand report from the front lines: Americans are still reading books. Night after night after night I showed up in a different bookstore and people were there with their hardbacks. Sure, I signed a couple of iPad covers, Kindle covers. I’ve got no problem with that. But just because some people like their e-readers doesn’t mean we should sweep all the remaining paperbacks in a pile and strike a match. Maybe bookstores are no longer 30,000 square feet, but they are selling books….

The cycle has come all the way back around: the little bookstore grew into a big bookstore, which was squashed by the superstore, which folded beneath the Internet store, which made people long for a little bookstore. The whole process took about 13 years.

For the full article, visit  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/28/opinion/sunday/ann-patchetts-book-tour.html?_r=2.


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