I promised yesterday that I would post today on the question of Independent Booksellers and their relationship with eBooks, and here we are.
Yes, Indies sell eBooks, more and more Indies all the time. They (and I, frankly) have too long been frustrated by watching their customers browse the shelves, stand reading a book for a minute, put it back on the shelf, and pick up their phone to type away.
And that customer ain't typing notes for their own novel, you can bet your bottom dollar on that. No, they're sending their order to a retailer that doesn't have the bother and overhead of running a store with actual shelves.
But now, there are actual bricks-and-mortar (or in California, two-bys-and-stucco) stores that can deliver your eBook into your device, quick and easy and at the same price as the big boys.
For example, my own county's venerable and vibrant Bookshop Santa Cruz. Take a look at their home page, here. You will see, directly below the "buy books" search in the sidebar, a "Search Google eBooks" box. If you type in Pirate King, you'll see my novel, at the same price Amazon sells it for. My other local, Capitola BookCafe (whose site is here), has a box that searches books and eBooks together. Pirate King takes you to the hardback that is sitting on the store's shelves, under which is a note, Other Editions of this Title. Et voilà, the eBook, same price.
(Although as with the question of e-versus paper-royalties, it's not simple. Some publishers don't follow what's called the "agency model," which means Amazon's versions of their eBooks may be cheaper than Google's. But let's not get complicated here.)
Now, the booksellers don't earn as much for an eBook as they do for an actual physical book. On the other hand, they aren't bleeding ongoing transfusions into the veins of online marketers.
But there's one catch. And that is, Amazon doesn't always play well with others (see "agency model" above) and eBooks are one of those places. If you have a Kindle reader, you pretty much have to buy the books that go onto it in the proprietary Kindle format. Other readers are okay with the Kindle app; Kindle isn't okay with the apps from Sony or iPad or Nook.
Which doesn't mean you should toss the Kindle your Mom gave you for Christmas, although for the next one you buy, you might consider one of the android versions.
For those of you who have one of those other devices, Indie Bound has a list of shops that you can support by buying your eBooks through them, here.
If you are a bookseller, or if you know and love a bookseller, you might mention to them two helpful additions to the machinery of getting customers in the habit of buying eBooks from stores instead of Brazilian Rivers:
1. Put up a few notices, at the cash register and on the shelves, to let the customer know that it can be done.
2. To make it even easier for the customer, set up a QR code leading directly to the store's ordering page and add it to those notes. Customers can just scan the code and key in their order. This is what a QR code looks like—point your smart phone at this one and you end up at my own home page—and they're as simple to set up as it is simple to download a QR reader app to a smart phone:
So, that is today's public service announcement: Support your local Indie, buy an eBook from them today.
Of course, if you want an actual print book, maybe with the author's signature, they can probably help you with that, too.
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