Recent reports of the death of independent booksellers are Way overstated. I just came back from a trade show of independent booksellers, and I can testify that hundreds of its members would be greatly surprised to learn that they are dead.
The Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association trade show in Portland was a chance for me to give away advanced reader copies of Bright of the Sky to independent booksellers, see the publishers’ exhibits, chat with distributors (something authors seldom get to do) and learn about new publishers setting up shop. I got to brag a bit about the great reviews I’ve been getting, including Booklist: “In a fascinating and gratifying feat of worldbuilding, Kenyon unfolds the wonders and dangers of the Entire and an almost-Chinese culture that should remain engaging throughout what promises to be a grand epic, indeed.”
Below, I’m with Janet Lee Carey, YA author of Dragon’s Keep.
We’ve all watched with dismay as some of our favorite independent bookstores have closed shop. It’s true that the big box bookstores cut deals and have economies of scale that make it hard for the small stores to compete. But sit down with a bookseller and ask them what ideas they have for bringing people into their stores, handselling, and keeping their business a lively niche in bookselling, and you’ll get an earful. Ever ask for advice at a chain bookstore on something good to read? If you can find anyone to ask? It’s because of the blank stare you’ll get that people still buy at the indies. Great bookstores like A Book For All Seasons in Leavenworth, WA, Village Books in Bellingham, WA. . . . I think you know what I mean.
80% of all books are still bought in brick and mortar bookstores–so no, it’s really, really, not all on line these days. You might not have much influence on the clerk at the big box store, so if you’re an author, I say get to know your local indies.