Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Independent Bookshops Working Together? I think it's possible.

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 indiebookshops@gmail.com , 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. 

12 comments:

Philip Pullman said...

Sounds like a good idea. I hope it'll work. As for the 5,000 copies of 'La Belle Sauvage' signed for Waterstone's, I also signed 5,000 bookplates exclusively for independent booksellers.

Philip Pullman

Anonymous said...

As an Indie publisher with some excellent titles coming out over the next few years - I'd love to support this.

Hurrah!

Mabel Washington said...

Sounds like a good idea. I hope it'll work. As for the 5,000 copies of 'La Belle Sauvage' signed for Waterstone's, I also signed 5,000 bookplates exclusively for independent booksellers.

This comment needs some context. The 5000 bookplates were signed for Independent Bookshops AFTER the initial publication date, AFTER the 5000 exclusive 35.00 Waterstones editions, and AFTER the outcry from Independent Bookshops about the favouritism shown to Waterstones.

While appreciated, the bookplates reached Independent Shops in mid-December, two months after publication.

Hopefully the Independent Alliance will encourage Publishers to offer limited editions to Independent Bookshops well in advance of the publication of important titles, and not just as a belated reaction to Independent Bookshops' murmurs of discontent.

Sam Kenny said...

We're a small indie publisher and this sounds a great idea, but it sounds as if you're more interested in ensuring that the blockbusters come to independent booksellers. Indy booksellers need to look to supporting small publishers – especially local ones, such as histories, tourist guides, even local fiction. The book retailers can't compete with you there.

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