Ignore bookstores and they’ll go away

I’m not surprised that the owner of Giovanni’s Books, Ed Hermance, sounds pretty disillusioned in this article reporting that the United States’ oldest LGBT bookstore is closing next month. If I’d been in business for almost four decades, I’d be down too.

When was the last time you went into a bookstore? Would you be disappointed if the next time you went, they had a going-out-of-business sign in the window?

A lot of my friends have asked me where to buy my latest book (that would be The Unwanted, and you can find a list of links right here—and that ends today’s blatant play for self-promotion!) and then they ask, “Where is the best place for me to buy it for you?” As in “Where do you, the author, get the most return on my investment in the book?”

This, of course, makes me love my friends that much more. And here’s what I tell them: do you have a local bookstore? Buy it there. Is there not one close by? Check Indiebound and see if there’s one you can order it from. (I usually recommend Left Bank Books in St. Louis because I have an outsize love for them, and Kris Kleindienst and company have been kind and supportive of my work. Also, Spike the store cat.) Here in Vancouver I recommend places like Pulpfiction Books or Kidsbooks. (Bonus: at Pulpfiction if you order a new novel that they don’t have in stock, they can often get it for you at up to 30% off.) I love those stores and want them to be sustained. It’s where I like to shop for books.

I also tell them that they can buy them directly from my publisher. That’s where I get the most bang for their buck (which sounded fine in my head but on reflection sounds a bit dirty).

In the end, though, I don’t think there really is a wrong place to buy a book. Heck, you don’t even have to buy it, and I’m not just talking about my own here either. Go to the library! These places are awesome! All the books! And free!

As the Doctor would say, books! Best weapons in the universe.

3 thoughts on “Ignore bookstores and they’ll go away

  1. I have just been looking on Amazon for The Unwanted and the Kindle price is £4.94. The paperback price? £16.50! I would rather have the paperback (preferably with your signature on the title page), but it’s simple economics. With the best will in the world, I cannot afford to pay £11.56 more than I need to. Similarly, I was going to read Greg Herren’s Chanse MacLeod series in sequential order (I’m a bit weird like that), but many of them are already only available on Kindle (at least on Amazon).

    I think it’s so sad when book shops (especially LGBT book shops and book shops that have been around for years) are forced to close down because of dwindling sales, but such is technological progress. I love browsing in book shops, but why would I spend £20 in a book shop when I can get exactly the same book online for £10? I have written about this on LiveJournal before, possibly in response to something Becky Cochrane has said on the subject. My finances are such that, often, I cannot justify paying the book shop price, but I can afford to pay the online price. I guess the positive is that the cheapness of many online prices (and especially e-book prices) is that I can buy the books I wouldn’t be able to afford in the book shop?

    Saying all of that, I much prefer the feel of a paper book between my hands, with real pages to turn!

    • As a recent graduate student and currently a self-employed freelancer, I’m highly price sensitive as well. It’s why I like libraries so much. I like paper books, too. E-books also. I like buying both from someplace other than Amazon. When Amazon starts doing things like this, I tend to stand by my original stance that in the long run they are not a good choice for writers, publishers, or readers.

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