Bookstore sales have never been a priority for my company i30 Media Corp. or for new book launches including Lean Media and the titles in the In 30 Minutes series. This blog post explains my thinking, which ties closely into the “distributor” model for book publishing.
I know that some indie publishers have fantastic experiences with bookstores and traditional distribution, but for my company’s online focused sales model I have a different perspective. When I started in 2012-2013, it was pretty clear that the easiest way to get started was via Amazon programs, and there were serious limitations in the distributor model required for a real bookstore presence.
I could not work with the lead times demanded by distributors, and was astounded that their cut also extended to Amazon print-on-demand and ebook sales – areas in which distributors add very little value, while slowing updates and interfering with participation in key Amazon programs such as Amazon Advertising.
On the wholesale side, I was very frustrated dealing with returns through Ingram and Baker & Taylor, and knew that if I insisted on bookstore sales, the returns problem would be even more pronounced. So I really focused on online sales from day 1, and haven’t looked back. The bookstore model doesn’t work for me, but I want to make it clear that it may work for other publishers, or indeed, may be necessary for certain types of publishers.
What remains to be seen is how bookstore sales evolve post-COVID. The bookstore business model was gutted by the pandemic, and some stores will permanently close. But it’s also quite clear that people love bookstores, and perhaps have been reminded about how in-person bookstore experiences such as browsing and author events are something to treasure.