Amazon, Small Press, & Independent Booksellers

Last week at Naropa’s LitFare I had a chance to learn about publishing from two insiders: Allan Kornblum of Coffee House Press and Peter Conners from BOA Editions. Much of what they talked about came as a surprise to me. I didn’t know that bookstores sent back unsold copies for a full refund (plus a processing fee charged to the publisher!)

Conners broke down the numbers from the the small press’ point of view. Basically after the distrubutor (both Coffee House Press and BOA Editions are distruted by Consortium Book Sales & Distrubution) and the bookstore take their cut not as much as I would have thought is left over for the publisher. And of course, much much less is left over for the writer. But none of that surprised me.

What did surprise me was that Amazon pays much less for the books than a regular bookstore. So buying from from Amazon, means that the publisher gets less money.

But I love Amazon. It’s my favorite place to buy books. I appreciate the vast selection and the discounted price (I always spend enough to get free shipping). And I like that I get recommendations based on books I’ve enjoyed. I find it very helpful that I can see books that other people bought similar to the book I’m searching for. And I like that I can keep a Wish List.

Conners said that the BOA Editions has added an online bookstore to their website, which means that the publisher gets more money from a book sale. Coffee House also sells its books online. And I’m sure many other small press’ are doing the same.

This weekend I went directly to the publisher’s website to order Rosario Tijeras. It is the third time I’ve bought this book (the other two copies I’ve given away, and this copy is for my mentor Jim Hall). I was willing to pay a little extra for the book (shipping & handling) so that that Seven Stories Press could make a little more money. It was like a donation. But the site kept giving me an error message when I tried to put in my credit card information. I ended up getting it from Amazon, as usual.

But I’m going to keep trying. Out in the world I almost always shop at independent bookstores: Joseph-Beth in Kentucky and Boulder Bookstore in Boulder. The service at both those stores is excellent. I wish I could find an on-line resource for books that was just as good.

Comments are closed.