Last year, there was a bit of a hooh hah among indie booksellers, after a special edition of Philip Pullman's "Book of Dust", was made available exclusively through Waterstone's. 5,000 of these signed special editions, we're sold online and in store for £35 each.
That's £175,000 worth of book sales.
This was certainly not the first time this kind of thing has happened, and in a blogpost, The Secret Bookseller expressed their frustration, saying that Independent Bookshops are never given the opportunity to profit from these kinds of deals. This post resonated with many people.
My personal view is that I don't blame Waterstone's, Philip Pullman or David Fickling (the book's publisher) for doing this. It makes perfect sense if you have a large number of bookshops all being able to offer the same deal. That is one of the advantages of being a large bookchain and having the facility to centrally buy titles, such as this.
So, imagine, if you will, a group of say, 150+ Independent Bookshops getting together in a semi official capacity, in order to approach publishers to say "Hey look, there are 150 of us bookshops who will promote/advertise/own the new book by (insert universally bestselling author here), if you give US an exclusive limited edition of their book."
If this happened, I suspect that there'd be quite a few publishers and authors who'd take notice, and want to support this.
(I hasten to add that this is a hugely simplified version of things, but I hope you get the idea)
The idea of an Independent Bookshops Alliance has been tried before, but I really think that, despite us all being fiercely independent (quite right too), there are times when it could be a huge advantage for us to work together to negotiate better discounts, exclusive indie offers and maybe more.
This is the seed of an idea, so I don't want to get into logistical discussions about how it can/can't work. I'm busy trying to run a bookshop.
But if you are IN ANY WAY interested in pursuing this idea, please email firstname.lastname@example.org , saying YES.
If the response is good, then we can look at how the heck we're going to make it work.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. Please share it, so the message gets out to as many indies as possible.