Last month, Fast Company did a great story on bookstore co-op deals, in which publishers pay booksellers for inclusion on front tables, end caps, face-out placements, etc. So, yes, those books out front at Barnes & Noble are there because someone paid for them to be there, not necessarily because they're the best or most important—although, of course, bookstore buyers only allow placement for books they believe will move. (Also, the two indie booksellers we've asked, BookPeople and Vroman's, say that featured "employee picks," an upaid form of co-op, are completely at the employee and bookseller's discretion.)
It's an interesting negotiation, and as bookstore space shrinks and brick-and-mortar book shoppers dwindle, co-op placement for books becomes increasingly important. Adam L. Penenberg, author of Viral Loop, gives an good overview. Read it here, and have a Happy New Year!
Trackback URL for this post:http://www.greenleafbookgroup.com/trackback/2149
We're teaming up with independent bookselling superstars BookPeople this August for the first-ever Austin Publishing University, a seminar series for authors and aspiring authors on how to get your book published efficiently and profitably.
If you're in the central Texas area, we'd love to have you join us on the first four Sundays in August at BookPeople (603 N. Lamar, Austin, Texas). Sessions cost $15 each or $45 for all four. Attendance is limited to 60 people per session. To reserve a seat call (512) 472-5050 or visit BookPeople.
It's going to be a fun, educational event—one we hope will untangle some of the complexities of getting a book produced, distributed, and marketed, as well as answer any questions on the publishing industry attendees have, whether basic or advanced. Be sure to visit our Facebook page, and if you're the Twittering type, you can tweet about Austin Publishing University with the hashtag #apu09.
Descriptions of the four sessions of APU after the jump.
SESSION 1 – Ins & Outs: The Industry Overview
Sunday, August 2, 2009 1:00 – 2:30 pm
The publishing industry presents many business models for authors, each with its own set of pros and cons. This class will walk you through the industry and give you the tools you need to choose the best path for your project. Plus, you will gain a basic understanding of what it takes to successfully create and market content in the retail marketplace. Learn the ins and outs of traditional publishing, self-publishing, print-on-demand publishing, and hybrid models—and how to avoid publishing pitfalls along the way.
SESSION 2 – Hot Topic: Content is King
Sunday, August 9, 2009 1:00 – 2:30 pm
So you know you want to write a book, but the blank page is glaring at you and you just don’t know how to begin. Come learn some useful techniques for structuring the writing process, getting past the terrifying first blank page, and presenting your ideas in a compelling and engaging manner.
SESSION 3 – Killer Covers: Boosting Sales by Design
Sunday, August 16, 2009 1:00 – 2:30 pm
Book jackets serve a number of purposes that are essential to the success of your book. This class will teach you how to make informed decisions about your covers by examining a variety of topics including genre appropriateness, the role of research, concept and tone, using photography and/or illustration, branding a series, endorsements, author photos, printing technology, retail durability, Amazon thumbnails, and design trends. We will closely analyze examples of various cover designs including award winning work.
SESSION 4 – Storming the Market: Online, On the Air, and On the Shelves
Sunday, August 23, 2009 1:00 – 2:30 pm
As the old saying goes, it’s easy to write a book: Selling it is hard. This class will discuss how effective marketing strategies, combined with traditional publicity and new media, come together to create a successful book launch. We will review the basic timeline that you should follow, describing what to do before, during, and after your publishing date. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to get the perspective of veteran publishers and retailers from both us at Greenleaf Book Group and BookPeople.
Trackback URL for this post:http://www.greenleafbookgroup.com/trackback/2115
This is the first in a series of interviews the Big Bad Book Blog will conduct with independent booksellers across the country. For our inaugural post, we started with local hero BookPeople, the largest independent bookstore in the state. Marketing Director Alison Kothe Nihlean answered our questions.
What's the hottest genre in your store right now? Any surprise best-sellers?
Kid’s books and general fiction are the two best sections in the store right now. The “surprise” bestsellers aren’t really surprises to us, because our bestsellers are things that our staff champions and gets behind. For instance, The Hakawati by Rabih Alameddine was a book we sold better than pretty much any store in the country because we loved it so much, and we have a hard time keeping Craig Johnson books in stock because our staff loves this mystery writer. We’re very lucky, being an independent bookstore, that we can pretty much sell and promote what we love.
What’s the most successful or creative store event you remember hosting? What do you look for in an author or book when setting up an event?
Our Harry Potter 7 party! This party was a team event from just about every person at the store, and we were planning it for a good six months. With the staff in costumes; working with other local businesses like REI, Amy’s Ice Creams, the Austin Symphony; creating games such as real wizard dueling; constructing a Diagon Alley set; showcasing wizard rock bands—it was just spectacular. Over 5,000 people were in our parking lot with us as we counted down till midnight. As a true Harry Potter nerd myself, it was just magical.
When I book authors to come to the store, I look at their previous books (if they have them) to see how they were received and how well they sold here at the store. I also look at the subject matter and see if it’s a good fit for Austin and is topical. There are so many variables into bringing authors to BookPeople—definitely not an exact science!
Do you ever bring self-published books into your store? If so, how often and under what circumstances?
We do carry quite a few self-published books here. We have a consignment agreement with those authors that stipulates how long the books will be here, what the selling arrangement is, etc. We always look through the book first to make sure it is of good quality as well.
What are the benefits of physical distribution when so much is available cheaply on Amazon and other online retailers? Do you see the recent popularity of eBooks or the economic downturn significantly affecting your store?
One thing you can’t get on Amazon.com is a recommendation by someone who really loves talking about books. You also can’t see author events, have fun at a puppet show, learn about a new book in a subject you’d never read about before, or perhaps see a long lost friend sitting at the café. Sure, online stores (and big box stores) may sometimes have cheaper deals, but I always look at where my money is going as well. If I buy online, none of my money is staying in Austin, and, frankly, that’s pretty crappy. I’d rather pay regular price for something and support a place I love than get $3 off and send my money to a different state altogether.
As far as eBooks go, I don’t see them as “the death of books” or anything like that. It’s a change in medium, something new and exciting happening in the publishing world, but nothing that will forever change the love people have for holding a solid book in their hands. BookPeople will soon be able to sell eBooks as well, and we’re excited to offer something for our tech savvy customers out there. The times man, they are a’changin’.
If you feature staff picks, how are these selected? Does the staff have complete freedom to give face-out placement to any book they like?
Staff picks are all over our store. We encourage out staff members to write selections for any and every book they are passionate about. Then, about once a week, our inventory managers rotate out the staff selection cards on the floor (we have so many we can’t display them all at once). I’d say at any given time we have over 500 staff selection cards out on the floor.
Since BookPeople is such a large store, we love having such a variety of staff selection cards because they help us in suggesting and finding books for customers. I know little to nothing about the real estate section, for instance, but I’m able to use the staff selection cards there as a guideline when helping someone else in that section.
If all books were sold on a non-returnable basis, how would this affect your buying? What if all books were printed without a retail price so you could set the price as you saw fit?
That would cripple us, as it would most bookstores. We would not be able to host events, because if they didn’t go well due to unforeseen reasons what would we do with 50 copies of a single book? We would be hesitant to order unproven titles, so say goodbye to debut authors, books in any of smaller sections, and there would definitely not be any special ordering (something we do dozens of times every day).
What’s the most embarrassing book in your personal collection?
I own (and love) most of the Baby-sitters Club series. I will never get rid of them. Ever.