Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Value of the Chain Bookstores

You hear a lot of reasons why self-publishing is a bad idea. (Some of them may even be true.) One often-repeated statement is that self-published books won't be carried by chain bookstores. Actually, Amazon's print on demand CreateSpace does allow you to sign up for an "extended distribution" channel that allows libraries and bookstores to order your book. That's no guarantee that they will, of course. But neither is traditional publishing.

R.L. LaFevers, author of THEODOSIA AND THE SERPENTS OF CHAOS, wrote about WhatHappens When The Chains Won't Carry You on Shrinking Violet Promotions.

Here's a quote: "When the book first came out, one of the chains had placed a big initial order for the book while the second chain ordered zero copies. Of course, I panicked. Surely I would be handicapped from the starting gate!

"But once again, that did not prove to be the case. To date, my chain store sales of that title are about 7%. Yep, 7%. And the paperback is now in its 5th printing. Clearly the less-than-stellar performance in the chains did not kill the book.”

That book came out in 2007, so it's not even a victim of recent bookstore closings. Yes, it's great to get your book in stores, especially the big chain bookstores (though small independents may do a better job of hand-selling specific titles). Bookstores are not, however, the sales channel that will make or break most books.

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