As a writer, I love bookstores, especially the non-chain ones, which are accomplishing somewhat of a resurgence, as the big chains suffer and die off in the new world of book distribution.
An independent bookstore is not a money-making proposition-- there's not a lot of profit in books-- the owners do it because they love books.
It's such a tough business that if they are to survive, they must adapt. They must find ways to bring in customers, who can buy books online cheaper and easier. They must be the connection point between writers and bookbuyers. Author signings and events must be part of their plan.
An author signing can fill a bookstore with book-hungry customers. It costs the store nothing (or very little, when properly done), and gets them a great deal of publicity, so it's a win-win scenario.
And yet, there are some who don't do this well. They don't want the extra customers and sales for some reason... They'd rather go out of business than have writers in their stores selling books and talking to buyers.
Sad, but true. I had one who told me, "Come back for a signing when you're famous."
Yeah, sure-- you didn't want me before, you didn't help, but I should take the time and effort to help you anyway, after I've done the hard work? What planet are you living on? Planet-soon-to-be-closed, most likely.
And I heard of another outrage recently. there's a well-known bookstore in Concord, MA, that's been around for awhile. Apparently, they believe this gives them a license to rip off writers, who don't make a lot to begin with. A writer I know went in to see about getting his books in on consignment (which means no cost to the store, and they get a cut of everything that sells-- free money). But that wasn't enough for the greedy bastards. They want writers to pay $100 just for the privilege of having their books on the precious shelves, along with the other thousands.
Had I been there, I'd have asked the proprietor if they were on crack.
In what world do you get to shit on people like that? Who is so desperate they have to put up money just to get in to your bloody store?
Nah. I'd rather send people to Amazon, and laugh at your closing sale. Stores who don't help writers are the first to complain about having fewer customers, and about the evil online seller that has books for less.
See, the thing is, I love books more than I love bookstores. And if stores don't want to help writers sell books and meet customers, they're destined for the dustbin of history. Writers are your content providers, so it's a lousy business model to refuse to do business with them.
But hey, your call. I can send buyers to your store, or to your competition.
But stop whining about how you're making less money. It's because you don't know your business.
Two ways you can help the little guy. Give up a Starbucks latte or two and throw a few bucks to these worthy places who are crowdfunding their ventures.
Books and Boos, in Colchester, CT, run by Jason and Stacey Longo Harris. They bust their butt to help writers-- they have several signings a week, and they're a tiny store. They'd love to have more room for bigger events, but that takes money. So they've started a campaign to raise the funds to move to a larger space.
Another bookstore in Portland, Letterpress Books, would like to open, and needs some help raising the startup costs.
And a shoutout to the following small retailers who've been added to the list of where you can find my books for sale:
Second Hand Prose in Groton, MA, a new location for a little used bookstore.
Annie's Bookstop in Worcester, MA.
Mainely Murders in Kennebunk, ME.