Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I Support the Supportive Bookseller

Borders is the best indie bookseller that isn't indie. They have a policy of supporting local authors, whether published traditionally through a large or small press, or self-published. This means if you, the author, live near a Borders, you can call and ask to speak to the buyer. Give her a brief pitch and summary of your book, asking if she would mind carrying your title in the local section.

The answer will be "Bring it in so I can take a look." Take 5 copies and you'll most likely have a cash sale. Your local Borders will also be happy to schedule a signing. If you do well at the signing, selling 20 books or more, your title will automatically be logged into the Borders.com website and can then be ordered from any Borders brick and mortar store in the country.

I guarantee that, if you're with a small press, or without distribution, you won't get this kind of treatment from Barnes & Noble. And if you're self-published, your local Barnes & Noble won't even talk to you. But as soon as your book is listed with Amazon, then suddenly it shows up on B&N.com, linked from the Amazon site. That still doesn't mean it can be ordered in person from a B & N bookstore. It can't. They'll tell you to go home and get it online from B & N.com, which is another word for Amazon.com.

Where I live in the Salt Lake Valley, there are two indie bookstores and one chain indie. The chain indie will take books carried by a distributor. The indies will take them only on consignment. My publisher will not do consignment, therefore these two bookstores do not stock any of the books published by WiDo. Even though WiDo Publishing is out of Salt Lake City and has titles by authors who live here. I don't call that supportive, do you?

It seems to me that the indie bookseller should be supportive of the indie publisher. Right? Farm Girl is stocked in independent bookstores across the Great Plains states. Yet you can't order it from indiebound.org. It's not listed and doesn't show up in the search bar. If you don't live near one of the stores that carry Farm Girl, you'll have to order it from Amazon. Or from this website.

I am all for supporting the local independent bookstores. But why should I when they don't support me as a local author? My books have been well-reviewed, and Farm Girl does well at every store that carries it. (I'm pretty sure Uncut Diamonds will sell out in Ireland but that's neither here nor there.)

What reason do these local stores have for not doing business with my publishing company and stocking my books on a non-consignment basis? No rational reason that I can see, especially considering that it's stocked by a variety of other indies throughout the country. Just not here. Where I live. Where my children play. Where my husband and I sleep.(Godfather 2 throwback there lol.)

So when I want to buy a book, I drive past Barnes & Noble, I drive past Deseret Book (the local indie chain that said no to both my books), I drive 20 miles to get to Borders in Murray, Utah and there I spend money on books. When I was at the Orem (or was it Provo?), Utah Borders for a signing, I spent $40. If I'm traveling and I want to buy a book, I will seek out the Borders and give them my business.

I would love to support the independent bookseller but instead I support the supportive bookseller. That is Borders. Wherever you live, if there's a Borders, know this: they will support the local author. It's their nationwide policy. Long live Borders.

44 comments:

  1. That's really great to know. I'll keep that in mind for my books.

    CD

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  2. :( no Borders around here.

    I am learning so much from my blogging buddies! I knew that self-publishing presented a hurdle getting into 'real' stores, but i had no idea there was so much more to the story. Thanks for the info!

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  3. Wow. That is really good to know. I'm going to look up the nearest Borders right now. :)
    It sure was fun to see you on Twitter. You won't feel like an idiot after a while. Find people to follow, they'll follow you, and you'll start having fun!

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  4. How very interesting. I'm interested in this information because my oldest granddaughter Liz works at Borders in Manassas, Virginia. This is where M. Gray lives. She actually frequents the store where Liz works. I'm about a hundred miles away.
    Why aren't the Indies more supportive? Especially Deseret Book? Especially when your books have an audience. Good question. What a world.

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  5. Thanks for the heads up, Karen. Very interesting information on the promotion end of this business. Thank you for passing on the lessons you are learning. I am grateful.

    Love,
    Lola

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  6. What an informative post. I had no idea. So much for indy being indy.

    I've always loved Borders over Barnes and Noble, and now I'm glad my instinct was right.

    Next week, when I visit Ireland I'm buying Uncut Diamonds!

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  7. Good to hear a chain store doing that!

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  8. Great advice. We don't have any indie bookstores anymore. The last one closed years and years ago. We do have 2 chain bookstores that are awesome. I bet they would do this too. :)

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  9. that's fascinating. so how do I find out if my local indie will carry WiDo's books?

    Going to find out about Borders in my area right now!

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  10. That is really good information to know. I don't come across many Borders, but when I do, I will be sure to check out the locals section.

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  11. I just felt like it was important to pass this information along for several reasons: 1) Authors will feel more comfortable approaching their local Borders book buyer 2) We can all support Borders for this awesome policy. 3) Understanding the support indy movement isn't as easy as it might seem!

    And yes, woo hoo, I'm on Twitter whatever that means lol! So far I'm following Tamara Heiner and Talli Roland. I don't even know how to send a message.

    Theresa, have fun in Ireland. I am so jealous. Say hi to Ann, Barbara and Brigid for me.

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  12. That's really interesting. I love in Greece so I only really have access to Amazon, or the ONE and ONLY English bookseller that stocks bestsellers galore. PS. I'm now off to purchase your books :) from Amazon.

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  13. I didn't know this. Thanks for the info. I shop everywhere for books, and I do go to Borders frequently.

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  14. AA, Really?? That's so cool! Well, at least it's cool if you like them lol! Bookstores generally seem to be stocking bestsellers galore. It's always nice when something comes out of the unknown pack and makes a hit. Like this year it seems to be The Help.

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  15. I had no idea Borders did this. They now have my business for life.

    Thanks for the heads up.

    Wootles!

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  16. ...the independent pub. I'm working with has commented on this topic as well. He's mentioned a time or two how B&N routinely fail to stay up to date with their invoices...and the bills pile up, and pile up...

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  17. I didn't know this about Borders. Thank you. They knew there was a reason why I spend so much money there. ;o)

    Our local bookstore carries and promotes all of the local authors, and I think they're all self-published. Of course, I live in a very small town, and writers tend to be readers. They're probably her good customers and friends.

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  18. Thats very interesting Karen, our local borders relocated because of expensive rents here in Ireland.
    I was a constant visitor and loved that they did free arts and crafts for children, it was like our second home,
    I hate to blow my own trumpet but I got shortlisted for a national short story award, check my blog if you have a moment, end of self-promotion.
    Maybe you can make it to Ireland for the next coffee morning, we hope.

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  19. Golly, the Borders near where I worked closed down and it is now a furniture shop! :-(

    Very interesting about indy shops not supporting local authors for no apparent reason? That's not good!

    Go Borders! Take care
    x

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  20. I totally agree with you about Borders as opposed to Barnes & Noble. I never spend my money at Barnes & Noble because they treat authors so badly. I'd rather go to an indie or Borders because they've supported me so much in the past.

    Jai

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  21. Waldenbooks, which is part of Borders, is the same way. Shame there's only 130 of those remaining - soon to be none!

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  22. I'm with Old Kitty - my local Borders has now closed. Sad, as I used to love to go in there. My nearest chain, Waterstones, is really good and stocks copies of my London book. So I can't complain. Indie bookstores in London are also pretty supportive. It's tough, though!

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  23. Wow, that is vexing - why do they call themselves indie when they don't want to do business with the very people they should do business with? It makes no sense! Stoooopid:) I also adore Borders! There aren't any in Europe as far as I know, but I've often been to the one in Orchard street, Singapore:)

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  24. Interesting post Karen, I will be sure to buy more books from Borders. In the event my W.I.P(when finished) cannot be published through traditional means, then I may decide to self-publish. It is good to know there is a book seller willing to place my novel on the shelves. Just goes to show, there's lots of hope out there. All the best.

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  25. Just a note to clarify-- In some areas, the indy bookstore is GREAT to new authors, including self-pubbed and small press authors. All you can do is ask. It's a lucky break to live near those indies that will support you as an author!

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  26. I had no idea Borders was so supportive to local authors. I'll have to go talk to them. Right now.
    Karen

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  27. I've always loved Borders. But now I love them even more.

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  28. The business of publishing and bookselling is unlike any other.

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  29. I've wondered why WiDo has dealt with Borders of B & N. I'll go with Borders. Besides, it's by Kohls. :)

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  30. oh Karen, you're funny. Twitter is easy!

    And I found our local Borders! It's only 20 minutes away. (believe me, out here, anything w/in 30 minutes is close.)

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  31. I live in Ann Arbor, so that big-ass national chain has a place in my heart ANYWAY. But I am so thrilled to hear they play nice with authors--I SEE the local display all the time, but I hadn't realized it was relatively easier to get on that display than it would be at an indie.

    Say... we have a Borders by the Kohls, too... is there a conspiracy there? A message? *spooky music*

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  32. Great post! I love hearing this because there is a Borders where I live! :-)

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  33. This is a fantastically helpful post and I am bookmarking it for future reference! I had no idea about Border's policy, and admit I am a B&N supporter (over Amazon, just because I don't want the paper bookstores to fade away completely).

    Thanks again! I will be checking it out.

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  34. This is so good to know! There's a Borders up here in Logan and I think one in Ogden too. I will definitely call them when my book is published. Thanks for the info.

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  35. Knowledge is power. I had no idea. I have a Barnes & Noble right down the street and a Borders 20 miles away. I will support the Borders from now. You have a convert. I'll be sure to share this information with others so we're all taking our business to the supportive bookstores!

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  36. Wow, I had no idea. Thanks for getting the word out.

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  37. With my book buying habit, I pretty much support all the bookstores. I do think it's cool that you talk about Borders and I have one that I shop at here in Canberra Australia (just makes the world feel smaller).

    I have a habit when I'm in Borders and other large booksellers, that I find all the novels and writers I love and turn their books cover out so other customers will find them too. My husband thinks this is embarrassing :-)

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  38. I do not have Borders in Cyprus, but if I did they would get my money! Good for you, thanks for sharing the info.
    I am fortunate, here in Cyprus local authors get their books taken on by all book stores. English books get snapped up. I sold several poetry books here. I hope my novel will get an airing one day. ;0

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  39. Oh, too bad we don`t have Borders here in Germany! That sounds like a real good policy. What can they lose, anyhow? If we had such a book chain here, I might also try to publish something. Good there is blogland to share information, huh?

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  40. interesting info. thanks. It's nice to learn more about that end of the business.

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  41. And when you do go into Borders check out their "local" area. At mine it's called "all things local" and that's where they shelve the local authors' books. So then we can all support our local authors!!

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  42. I'd never even thought of it from that perspective!

    Our local indie has just closed down which is sad. Maybe it's different in the UK but they were very supportive of new writers, and many local authors have given talks and hosted book-signings and sold copies of their novel from that store, but sadly they couldn't compete with the new Waterstones that recently opened up opposite - customers were fickle and seemed to prefer the Big Cheese to the little local one!

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  43. I didn't know that about indies, and frankly, I'm surprised. Thanks for letting us know, and I don't blame you for supporting those who supported you too. It goes both ways.

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