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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.

Selling Books: Indie Stores vs. Online Distributors

It's an interesting thing, selling a book. Especially when you 1) have never sold one before and 2) are a relative nobody. Actually, there's nothing relative about it. To anyone but my friends and family (who have for the most part already bought copies), I am a nobody. And when was the last time you bought a book just because someone told you their friend/sister/cousin/former roommate wrote it? For that matter, when was the last time you went into a bookstore and bought a book by an author you've never heard of just because the book looked interesting? I pretty much never do this. Case in point: This past weekend I was at a darling indie store and went to my favorite section, the biographies. I honed in on a very buzzed-about memoir that I've been meaning to buy and went ahead and bought it. And seeing my little book sitting next to all the buzz books made me both delighted and depressed. I mean, it's amazing to see your own book on the shelves. But next to all those buzzed-about books, who would ever buy mine?

When it comes to getting my book into stores, I've definitely made a few blunders. Part of this is my own newness to the world of publishing, and part of it is the divide that has been created because of mammoths like Amazon. It has been off-putting to some independent bookstores that so much (read: all) of my book marketing directs people to Amazon and B&N. I got an email from a bookstore just this week asking why I was directing independent stores to a website (mine) with links to Amazon and B&N on it. I will tell you that the email brought me to tears just because I felt so foolish. But I will also tell you that there is not a book in her store that isn't also available on Amazon and B&N. This is just the world we live in. And especially as a nobody whose book is not available in many stores yet, I simply have to have a presence among online distributors. That said, I never want it to appear like I'm insensitive to the negative impact that Amazon has had on the world of independent bookstores. Because I am a hard-core independent bookstore fan. I always prefer purchasing from a brick and mortar store, supporting local business, and holding a physical book in my hands. Always. So in recognition of indies everywhere, I'd like to give a shout out to a few of the stores who added my book to their shelves this week: Fireside Books in Chagrin Falls, Ohio; Sunflower Books in La Grande, Oregon; and St. Johns Booksellers in Portland, Oregon. Many thanks for all you do.