Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Public Service Announcement, or, How to Insult Your Local Independent Bookstore

If you are an author and you only link to A**zon on your website, booksellers will hate you. Really.

If you go to a store, get a bunch of book recommendations and then go buy them online?  You might as well walk up to the manager, slap her, and tell her that you hope her store closes. Yeah. That's how big a jerk you are.

If you go to a booksigning at your local independent bookstore, and you don't buy a book?  YOU ARE ROBBING THEM.

If you are an author yourself, set a good example for crying out loud. Shop at bricks-and-mortar bookstores and link to indiebound or an indie store on your website. When you try to befriend booksellers, a good way to do it is by actually buying the books they recommend. When you go to "support a friend" at a signing, try actually being supportive by BUYING A BOOK.

Thank you.


  1. Great post! It amazes me how many people are not thinking of this.

  2. Anonymous12:08 PM

    This is an honest question, so please don't think I'm trying to be obtuse. How am I robbing an independent book store if I attend a signing to support a friend and do not purchase a book?

    For the record, last time I attended a signing at an independent book store, I purchased the book. However, I can't always afford to do this. Are you honestly recommending that I stay home if I can't afford to buy a book that day?

  3. Hi Anon.

    I think that you can only do what you can do. Can't afford to buy the book, or have it already? Think about getting a paperback, or a book light, or a postcard. It's polite to buy something at bookstores when they have events, when possible. But I get that it isn't always possible.

    My beef is with people who bring a stack of books that they got at CostCo or from an online retailer, to be signed at indie store events. That is rude, and yes, I think it is taking advantage.

    Publishers DO check in on how many books are sold at events. If stores aren't selling books at events, they will stop getting those big authors when they come on tour.

    Not only that, but events are actually expensive in terms of advertisement, staff hours, ordering, receiving and displaying extra stock, taking up time, space and energy all around. If the stores would be better off being CLOSED during that time... that's a big problem.

  4. Anonymous3:41 PM

    Thanks for this post. Anything that makes me think is certainly a good thing.

  5. Way to support those independent book stores! I've seen too many of my favorites go belly-up throughout the years. When I go to author signings I will be sure to make a purchase of some sort.

    As an aside, it might be fun for local book groups or fan group chapters to "adopt" a book signing, by volunteering time and helping to promote - providing cookies and coffee, that kind of thing.

  6. I just love when people ask me to recommend them a good book and when I offer to ring them up for it they say, "Oh, it's ok, I'm going to download it to my Kindle." C'est la vie!

  7. Great post. I cannot agree more. This industry is still a personal one. You have to take care of the local shops...

  8. Lauren11:20 PM

    Much as I would like to, I really can't afford to buy a whole lot of new books. Most of the books I buy, I buy used on amazon.com. If it makes you feel any better I buy a lot from libraries that are trying to raise money.

  9. Good point. While I use Amazon for easy links on my blog, I buy many of my books from other places. I support Borders in my city. But my favorite place is Porter Square Books in Cambridge, MA. Even though they're a small place, they host popular authors.

    I actually have a problem with book buying - if I walk into any bookstore, I HAVE to buy a book. That's why my to-read list is huge.

    And for authors, who better to recommend your books than bookstore employees?

  10. Anonymous5:37 PM

    Can I accidentally go to a book signing and buy books by someone other than the author signing? (Because I really don't want to read Julie Andrews' pink little girl tale.)

  11. I've stopped linking to Amazon at all on my blog. They're doing just fine without me, I'm sure. *sigh* >.>
    indiebound ftw!

  12. I'm afraid I am an indiscriminate book buyer. I buy EVERYWHERE--online, in indie stores, at library sales.... This explains not only why I never have any spare money, but also why I have a huge pile of books, both physical and digital in my TBR pile.

    I frequently go to support friends at book signings, and I always buy books, but not always the book that's being signed. The reason for that is that I have been told in the past that it's better to pre-order books you know you will want, that that benefits authors more. So if I know one of my friends has a book coming out, I go to my local store and order it. If she comes through someplace close later on, I'll go to her signing.

    So my question is twofold:
    1) *is* it better to pre-order books? Does it actually help the author?

    2) that bump in sales from signings--is it ok if it's not the author/book that's on tour? Because I am constitutionally incapable of walking into a bookstore and walking out empty handed, but I often already have a book by the time someone gets around to signing near me.

    And as for Indies--if anyone is in NY, they should go to Posman Books in Grand Central Station! Awesome indie, especially for genre fiction. If only their web presence were more solid. *sigh*


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