There is an ongoing controversy about the effect digital media has had and will have on printed books. Between 2008 and 2010, e-book sales soared, up 1,260 percent1, and publishing people predicted the demise of printed books in the near future. Borders declared bankruptcy in 2011, and many independent bookstores closed their doors. There were only 1,410 of them in 1,660 locations in America five years ago.2
Many articles bemoan and/or complain about the Amazon juggernaut’s domination of e-book sales, and some pundits are gloating that e-book sales have slowed, while independent booksellers are growing. In 2015, there were 1,712 stores in 2,227 locations.
This kerfuffle about who is selling what kind of books tends to disguise the fact that Americans are reading more than ever—on paper, smart phones, e-readers, tablets, and computers. The overall market for books is steadily increasing, and that’s good news for independent authors.
While most independent authors publish only e-books, they are missing entry into the expanding market for books in print. Here are a few things to consider.
Amazon is indispensable to independent authors. Not only does it promote the easy publication of e-books, it provides numerous tools, at very reasonable costs, to produce and market those e-books. Its CreateSpace program offers one-off digital printing of soft cover books at competitive prices. CreateSpace also converts printed books to e-books, which it markets for the author as well.
Recently introduced is the “Scout” program where Amazon offers unpublished, well-edited books for review by readers who may nominate the book for publication by Amazon in e-book and audio format. If Amazon selects the book, the author receives a reasonable, though not gaudy, financial reward and a five-year contract.
With the growth of independent booksellers who offer things Amazon cannot (like walking out of the store with a printed book under your arm), authors should begin a conversation with local booksellers about stocking their books and attending book signing sessions. Like most worthwhile things, it takes time and effort, but a good relationship with local book merchants is good marketing.
Here’s a lead on getting your book in a Fort Meyers, FL book store. Patti Brassard Jefferson, illustrator and author, has a bookstore, P.J. Boox, devoted exclusively to indie authors. The author rents display bookshelves for about $10 a month. When a book sells, the author receives almost the full retail price. Check it out at www.pjboox.com.
And, here’s the commercial. My latest novel is now under review at Amazon Scout. If you would like to see how the program works and nominate National Parks, go to https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/LUUV47H6J21J . My other books are at www.frogworks.com.