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[IRTF] FAQ: Buying the Book

As we get closer and closer to the publication date for I Remember the Future, I've had more people ask me about buying the book. In particular, people seem to want to know the best way to buy the book, the way that will most support me in my quest to get this book out there.

First off, I want to say thank you to everyone who has already pre-ordered the book or who is actually contemplating buying the book. Whenever someone asks me the best way to buy the book, I've been giving what has become a stock discussion on the realities of book selling and book publishing. It occurred to me that I might as well post my thoughts here, so I could point people to it when they ask me.

Also, I suspect that what I'm about to discuss applies to more than just me, one author with one book. So, for all of you wondering the best way to support your favorite authors with your purchase, here's the way I see it.

The three questions answered behind the cut are:
1. Should I buy the book directly from the publisher?
2. Should I buy the book from my favorite independent bookseller?
3. Should I buy the book from from a chain store or a big-name store?



1. Should I buy the book directly from the publisher?

To begin with, for the moment my book is only available to be pre-ordered directly from the publisher's website. Since the publication date isn't until November 1, the book won't be available for buying or even pre-ordering from anywhere else for a few weeks yet.

There's an obvious advantage to me if you buy directly from the publisher, and especially if you pre-order. Above all, publishing is a business, and cash flow can often be an issue for a publisher, especially a small press. Any time a publisher decides to publish a book, the publisher has to create a budget for the book. Part of that budget includes a line item for marketing and promotion. In the case of a small press, the money that comes in early for a book determines how much money the publisher can afford to spend towards promotion. So if you choose to pre-order the book, the major benefit to me is that it makes it easier for the publisher to market the book, which might lead to more sales later on.

In this case, there's a possible benefit to you as well. I've said this before, but I'll say it again. To promote pre-orders of the hardcover book, Apex and I guarantee that every pre-ordered hardcover will come personally autographed by me. Furthermore, I'll be writing the date with my signature, personalizing the book to the buyer if asked, and – here's the special part – I'll be writing in each hardcover something like, "Thanks for pre-ordering the hardcover." Even though the hardcover will continue to be available later on, only the pre-ordered ones will get that message written in them.

What does that mean? Well, it means that those books have a greater potential to climb in value for the collector's market. After all, there'll be evidence inside each copy that it's one of the first ones off the press. So, if you see book collecting as an investment, buying a pre-ordered hardcover would be the way to go. In a few years, you could put the book up on eBay, and who knows? You might end up getting ten times what you paid for it. Or more.

(After the book is published, you could still buy it directly from the publisher's catalog. The benefits I described above for the publisher still hold. The benefit to you is that you'll get the book faster.)

In short, buying the book directly from the publisher is an excellent choice.

2. Should I buy the book from my favorite independent bookseller?

This is actually the most common question I've been getting from people about buying the book. Many of my friends are supporters of independent bookstores, especially science fiction specialty stores, and they want to wait until the book is available from those outlets before buying it.

To which I say: bless you, and I hope you continue to support those stores. Because I support them too. And the advantage to the author when you buy the book from those stores is that those stores really care about the books they're selling. Loyal customers tend to trust the staff at those stores and their recommendations, and so those stores may very well end up pushing my book more than any other type of store.

For example, Mike's Comics and Pandemonium have both made it clear to me that they are very excited about my book. Mike's Comics tells me that they are sending off flyers about my book with every book shipment, and for years Pandemonium has asked to have me to do a signing once I had a book out. It's hard for me to imagine that a larger chain store would give the same push to a book like mine, and honestly there may not be a reason for them to do so.

Also, if someone at an independent bookstore likes my book, it may end up listed in the IndieBound newsletter (which used to be BookSense). And if that happens, then more independents might end up carrying the book.

In short, buying the book from an independent is an excellent choice.

(As long as I'm on the subject, as a Brookline resident I can't help but be a booster for Brookline Booksmith, one of the best general-interest independent bookstores in the world. I'm hoping they'll carry the book as well.)

3. Should I buy the book from from a chain store or a big-name store?

Yes, what about the big-name stores, like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Borders?

Interestingly enough, I've had almost no one ask me point blank if they'll be able to find the book on Amazon eventually. I think people might be embarrassed to reveal that they feel the need to buy the book at a discount.

To which I say: that's perfectly fine. I often take advantage of discounts myself. I don't think I have to point out to anyone nowadays that those stores can offer larger discounts on the book than many other places, meaning that you can get it cheaper. And this is a major consideration for anyone watching their budget.

But there's an advantage to the author as well when you buy the book at a chain store. First of all, Amazon has come to define bookselling in a way that no other store ever has before. Having a book sell very well on Amazon causes it to spike in the Amazon rankings, which leads to more people finding out about the book, cross-promotion with other books, and a greater general awareness of the book.

As for Barnes & Noble and Borders, the two chain stores have national distribution and they watch their book sales very carefully. If they see my book selling well in their stores, they'll make a point of ordering more copies...which will most likely result in their selling more copies of the book. Furthermore, the chain stores supply information on their sales to local and national bestseller lists, which means again that buying the book at one of their locations could lead to even more publicity for the book.

In short, buying the book from a chain store is an excellent choice.



To conclude: while it is true that I would love to get as many more pre-orders as possible (and if you're thinking of doing so, remember what I said about the advantage to you), in the end the best way to buy any book you want to support...is to buy it as soon as possible from wherever you prefer. (And buy as many copies as possible, as gifts for friends and family.)

Comments

Thanks. Local Borders didn't have it in their database, which I'm guessing means none of the 5 in Manhattan do, though I'll double check that. I checked 2 on foot, as I was doing a wee bit of holiday shopping.
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