Independent Bookstores Opening to Self-Published Books?

by | Sep 21, 2009

A lot of the trepidation authors feel when thinking about self-publishing their book seems to come from the retail bookselling community. Trying to pitch your book—from your one-book publishing company—to a chain bookstore buyer is an exercise in futility. And that’s assuming you can actually get to talk to a buyer, which is no easy task in itself.

But with the avalanche of newly self-published books showing no sign of letting up, it seems that some independent bookstores are stepping in where the chains fear to tread.

Recent articles point to a new openness on the part of some retailers toward the self-publishers who are attempting to wrestle some shelf space for their books.

Last week the American Booksellers Association (ABA) online newsletter Bookselling This Week ran a fascinating article by Karen Schechner, Adding to the Bottom Line With Self-Published Titles. Surveying independents in Oregon, Colorado, Indiana, Florida and Vermont, she unearthed programs specifically designed to accommodate self-published authors in their stores.

For instance, at Galaxy Bookstore in Hardwick, Vermont, owner Linda Ramsdell is quoted as saying that “Some authors are great speakers and have a great following of people who are impelled to buy books—others aren’t. It hasn’t had so much to do with how the book was published.” Music to a self-publisher’s ears.

And just today on their bookstore’s blog, owner Sam Dickinson of Aaron’s Books in Lititz, Pennsylvania posted an article with very practical and useful Do’s and Don’ts for self-published authors hoping to introduce their books there. He goes on to say:


We are professionals. We know what will and can sell in our store. We know the subjects our customers are interested in. We know the price points they are willing to pay. If we choose not to carry your book, it is not personal; and understand we will not make the decision to carry your book on the spot. We rarely do that with the major publishing houses that send us hundreds of advance reading copies, so we won’t do it with you either.

At the very least, if self-publishers can get treated on a more equal footing with trade publishers, it will help them immeasurably. But this also points up the responsibility of the self-publisher to do everything within their power to produce a book fully as good as the books coming from large publishing houses.

Produce a book you can stand behind with complete confidence—confidence it its content, its design, and in its packaging—then go market the hell out of it!

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