There’s no denying it. And lots of people like to give and receive books as gifts. But with the rise of online retailers and e-books, is there any room for the traditional bookshop in our lives?
I certainly hope so. But it is true that it is harder to sell books these days. Bookshops are dying as we browse online instead and if you look around you on a plane or train you will see most people reading on screens.
Now I am not entirely against e-books or online retailers. But when it comes to my own book, I prefer it if people contact me directly if they want any further copies.
Why? I make more money on e-books. But there’s something about a book you can unwrap at Christmas, Mother’s Day, birthdays – you can’t give an e-book to someone wrapped in pretty paper.
And you can’t get signed e-books either, can you?
Some online bookshops take as much as 60% commission on what they buy from the publisher. No wonder I ask people at my stall to get in touch personally and I promote my book signings so that I can, as an independent author, recoup more of my costs.
The pros of online stores
- Reviews. I can ask buyers to put a review online and this is useful as so many would-be buyers search the website. A new review also gives me the opportunity to tweet the ‘goodie’ to my followers with various hashtags to increase circulation.
- Sneak peeks. Some sites also allow browsers to ‘look inside’ the book, which can only be to the author’s advantage.
- Recommendations. Another upside is the ‘also looked at’ or ‘also bought’ books that appear when a search is made. I know that my book shows up on these searches.
But bookshops are better…
I have a strong passion for bookshops and my own local store, The Swanage Bookshop, has sold almost 40 of my books since publication last November.
And since my own book was published I have changed my buying habits where books are concerned.
I use the local library – use it or lose it – and I can order books on the library website and receive an email when the book is ready for collection.
This gives me the chance to read a book I might not want to buy especially if it is for writing research. And don’t forget, an author receives a royalty each time the book is borrowed from a library.
When I find a book I want to own, I order it through my local bookshop, rather than resort to my old habit of firing up my computer.
I enjoy exhibiting at events and talking to people about my book, how it came about and other trivia and often receive tips on where I can take my books next or about a possible outlet.This information can be more useful than selling books at the time, although I pride myself that most people at craft fairs who pick up the book, do start to giggle and then say ‘I must have this’.
So next time you need a book to buy as a gift, think of the author and try to buy from his or her website.
Take a walk to your local high street and, if you are lucky, you may still have a bookshop where you could ask them to order the book in, which only takes 2-3 days.
Browsing a bookshop has to be one of life’s greatest pleasures. If I have spare moments while waiting for a train I will go inside W H Smith and browse the shelves. I love the smell of new books and the fact that I can pick it up, hold it and sift through the pages.
The growth of online retailers, ‘dirt cheap’ high street bookstores and the subsequent loss of bookshops all over the country means bookworms rarely get the chance to pick up and peruse a new book and, of course, to speak to the author.
So this year, how about giving the internet a miss? Give your nearest and dearest the ultimate gift of a book and support your local bookshop.
Happy high street shopping and happy reading all!
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