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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ordering From Bookstores by Jeri Smith-Ready

This post was written by Jeri Smith-Ready and originally posted on her blog. Since she's happy to share it, and I think it's great information, I'm cross-posting it here as kind of a guest post:


Has this ever happened to you? You walk into a bookstore on any given Tuesday (the usual day for new releases), giddy with excitement over the book you've been dying to read for weeks. Within a few hours you'll be curled up on your couch with your favorite hot drink, or stretched out in the sun with your favorite cold drink, reveling in the printed word.

You search the store's shelves, the tables, and endcaps. But the book isn't there. If you're feeling intrepid, you check the computer or go to the information desk and ask for it.

Nope. It ain't there. Maybe the store only ordered a few copies and they're already sold out. Maybe the books haven't been delivered yet. Maybe the store simply hasn't ordered any at all.


You go home, disappointed, and write the author an e-mail, or comment on their blog or Facebook or Twitter, telling them the store didn't have their book.


Now two people feel bad, but there's a difference between these two people.

Because authors have no control over which stores sell their books (oh, how we wish we did). Even publishers don't have that control (oh, how they wish they did).

But readers do. By making one phone call, you can be sure your favorite store will have a copy of Shift waiting for you on or near release day.

After all, your store wants to sell books. An order is a guaranteed sale, so they are more than happy to get a book in for you. Everybody wins!

There are two ways to do this, in order of certainty:

1. Phone your closest bookseller. Here are links for store locators for independent bookstores, Barnes & Noble, Borders, and Books-A-Million. Tell them which book you want. They'll call you when it comes in. No wasted time and gasoline on your part--yay!

2. Sometimes you can pre-order it online for in-store pickup, or order it online for pickup once it comes out. But if it's not in stock to begin with, the website might disable this option, and the only way to get it is to call. Here are the links for Shift:

Independent bookstores
Barnes & Noble

These days, bookstores are buying smaller initial amounts of each book from the publishers than they used to. It has nothing to do with the individual books--it's across the board (not including huge bestsellers, of course). If a book sells out fast, they might reorder it, they might not.

So if you really want to help to an author (and help yourself), pre-order their book at your local store. It will not only help get that copy where you want to buy it, it'll also encourage the bookseller to buy more of that author's next novel. And thus, we get to stay employed. Everybody wins again!

There's certainly nothing wrong with preordering from Amazon or another online bookseller. Authors still earn royalties on those sales. We love you for buying our books anywhere and any time.

But each pre-order on Amazon results in one sale. If enough people pre-order a book from their local chain or independent bookseller, that might convince the store to order extra copies to put on their shelves. Clearly people want this book! So a pre-order (or an order) to your neighborhood store might ultimately result in two, three, five, or ten sales.

I know, the business of bookselling is really confusing, and it's changing every day. I can't guarantee that your store will be carrying Shift next Tuesday, or at all.

But you can. You have the power. USE THE FORCE, LUKE! Or, you know, the telephone.

Thanks--you rock!


Thank you, Jeri and congrats on your upcoming release of Shift! One thing I just want to add, because as a reader I never really considered this. While there's nothing morally wrong or illegal with buying books used, unfortunately none of the proceeds get to the author that way. Rather than buying used books, I now save myself the two or three dollars (plus shipping) and check them out from my library (or ask my library to order them if they don't already carry them). Heaven knows most of us can't afford to buy every book we want to read brand new, but library sales do still benefit authors - and hey, isn't "free" the best price?

1 comment:

  1. This is very true. I try to pre-order from my local bookstore now that my nearest BN closed.
    Not every reader knows they have this power. Thanks for sharing.