Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Million-Dollar-Question: How Can Bookstores Survive?

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Bookstores:  we all want them to survive, both, independent local bookstores and even big chains. It’s not an easy task for brick & mortar booksellers.  However, it’s the growing popularity of the “shopping local” movement, in which booksellers were at the forefront.” And further: “many consumers across the country find the grassroots accessibility of indies appealing”, wrote The Atlantic.
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My “wishlist” and ideas how bookstores could strive:

1. e-Book Order Feature
Since years I was wondering why bookstores did not offer their customers devices where they could order the e-book version if they liked what they found in print in the store. Or at least “bundle” print books with an e-book version. Amazon now tries to partner with bookstores (which might meet some resistance…) to offer exactly what I had envisioned.
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2. Carrying Author-Published Books
Trade-published books do not automatically mean quality. There are so many wonderful books from independent authors out there – and it would be a smart move to offer them as well. Readers don’t care who publishes a book, they just want a good read.
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3. Order Directly from Author-Publishers
This way, bookstores could circum-navigate the wholesalers and increase their profit quite a bit! As these connections are mostly with local authors, the bookstores could play the “local” aspect into their promotions to the communities around. Most people like to “know” the author who’s books they buy.
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4. Offer Book-Layout, Cover-Image and Editing
Why not band together with professionals and offer authors these services to make sure the books’ content and layout gets a great start and is prepared for the Espresso Book Machine. Many authors would be happy to get technical help in the book production and publishing process.
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5. Set up an Espresso Book Machine
Many authors (professional and hobbyists) struggle to create very small numbers of print books, e.g. for book signings, Goodreads Giveaways or as gifts. Bookstores would be the ideal place to offer this inventive book printing device. Motto: “Get your book printed while having your Java”, which brings me to the next suggestion:
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6. COFFEE!
Most chain stores, such as B&N or Chapters have a Starbucks in a designated area, but very few bookstores offer this pleasure. Independent bookstores need to give customers more reasons to come in!

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7. More Space and more PR for Author Readings

Supporting events such as readings and book signings should be a priority of bookstores – and organizing these professionally, including PR, should be a no-brain-er. After all it is a promotion for the store as well.
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8. Providing Space for Author Meetings
Charging a small fee (as libraries do) and renting meeting space for authors or even organize a writers conference could be profitable and at the same time a good PR for bookstores if they have the space.
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What is YOUR view, how do you think, bookstores can survive and even strive?


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