As an author, I told you WHERE I purchase ninety nine percent of my books and as I said before that happens to be Amazon, the World’s Largest Retailer. Anyway, now I’m going to tell you WHY. I will start by sharing a story that happened to a colleague of mine. Like my books, my colleague’s books are distributed through INGRAM CONTENT GROUP. So what does THAT mean? It MEANS….if you are reading a book, whether it's either of my books, any of James Patterson’s Books, John Grisham’s Books, my colleague’s books or anyone else’s books, there’s a ninety percent chance Ingram Content Group probably distributed it. And that’s true whether you are reading a book in the US, Europe, China or anywhere else on the planet. With the exception of a few books that get distributed through BAKER and TAYLOR and some other even smaller distributors, MOST books make their way into the world via INGRAM. My colleague’s books were professionally written, edited, designed and distributed through Ingram. For any of us authors to even have the privilege of “selling” our books we MUST agree to a required 55% discount. What does THAT mean? It means the distributor (Ingram) gets 15% of the list selling price of the book and the retail bookstores, be they Amazon, Barnes and Noble or a local indie bookstore, get 40%. And we authors must also agree that if the books don’t sell, they are fully returnable at our (yes, we the authors’) expense. So, in spite of the bookstores’ incessant palaver as to how they are not in a position to take risks with new authors, independent authors or authors whose books aren’t published by the TOP FIVE (there used to be SIX….but they merged. And if Random House acquires Simon and Schuster there will only be FOUR) big publishing companies, they actually never take any risks at all. (Believe me when I tell you, writing and publishing have nothing whatsoever to do with one another. It’s like comparing apples and oranges. Writing a book is a creative act; publishing one is a business.) It kind of gives a new credibility to the Steve Winwood lyrics, “the man in the suit just bought a new car with the profit he made from my dreams.”
Anyway, this author wrote the books, did everything he was supposed to do, including agreeing to the required “clauses” as mentioned above and yet. And YET… a local bookstore, with whom he’d dealt successfully in the past, was under new ownership. I know the bookstore. But I’m not going to mention its name, because it’s such a non-entity, hardly anyone has ever even heard of it. Suffice it to say, the new owner was extremely rude to this author, when he brought his book in to set up a book signing. This “entrepreneur” flung the book onto the counter unopened and announced flat out, in no uncertain terms, would he host a book signing for that author, even though the author previously had a successful book signing with his predecessor. The store owner’s reason? The publisher was small and independent (you mean like his bookstore?) and not one of the so called BIG FIVE publishers. He took it upon himself to decide that books from small publishers are not worthy of HIS time or attention. The ONLY saving grace in this entire nightmarish scenario was the fact that there was ONLY ONE LONE customer in the store to witness this outrageous display of what? Jealousy? Insanity? EGO? No one seems to know. All I can say is that, according to the author, this penny ante store owner appeared to have taken great glee not only in belittling what he perceived of as the author’s wretched existence, but also the work that took up the last two years of that author’s life. VEDDY UNPROFESSIONAL DAHLINGS. And cruel. Especially because this same owner has blackboards with signs on them proclaiming how he “caters to the locals in this area” (where the writer is a “LOCAL author” and where the bookstore is). Yeah. Right. Imagine spending years of your life, applying yourself to something, in as serious and dedicated a way as possible, only to have some frivolous persona non grata denigrate it? UNSPEAKABLE.
Ghost Town Part Three
By the way, many of today’s books are being published by small independent publishers and many more are even being “self-published.” And for the record, ”self publishing” isn't something new. In fact, it has a solid history in our American roots. As far back as Colonial Times, anyone who was lucky enough to own a printing press often wore three hats, that of author, publisher and printer. Benjamin Franklin comes to mind.
There are many reasons why some modern authors are electing to publish their own works themselves. As always, there is the issue of money. There are many more tax deductions available to publishers than to authors. There are more write-offs for entertainment, travel and electronic toys. Self-publishers make more money on their efforts, they get their work out into the world quickly AND they keep control over their own artistic licenses. Traditional publishers, in an effort to save money, (yes. THAT again,) leave out some illustrations and they often change the title and lose the theme of the book. (Like I said time and time again, it’s ALWAYS about the money.) Also, self published authors don’t have to share the profits. So, in many ways, it could be the wave of the future.
Now, I have been reading since I’m four years old and I’ve been supporting book stores for my entire life. One look at my bookshelves is overwhelming evidence of that. And I must say, never once in my life have I EVER walked into a book store and asked for books from any particular publisher. That’s the LEAST relevant criteria for me in choosing a book. I also remember what Julia Cameron said. The biggest crazy makers for artists are those who WISH they were creative and aren’t. Hmmmm…..So, as far as I am concerned, these uncreative Indie book store owners and their shop s can become ghost towns for all I care.
On the other hand, Amazon, the largest bookstore in the world, has made it extremely easy for new authors to sell their work. Both Pattie’s Best Deal AND It Can’t Rain This Hard Forever are being treated well. So, as I said to my colleague and I’m saying to you right now, I'll just stick with Amazon and thank God for it. Besides…it’s convenient.