The perfect bookstore v.3

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 4

Eight years ago. EIGHT. 8!!!

I wrote this: The Perfect Bookstore.

Six years ago, I wrote the followup: The Perfect Bookstore

Today, my good friend Nate Hoffelder, digital maven and my occasional partner in crime, pointed me to this:

Paris’s first on-demand-only bookshop.

Point-by-point similarities:

  1. The concept itself
  2. The coffee shop
  3. Its location near a college

Best part?

Meriot said he needs to sell about 15 books daily to break even.

That’s a margin even I didn’t foresee.

Les Presses Universitaires de France storefront


For whatever reason, NetGalley has decided to start putting tighter restrictions implemented publishers’ tightening of restrictions on who gets free eARCs (electronic Advanced Reader Copies).

So what.

Here’s the thing: NetGalley charges what is, to me, a micropress, an astronomical amount of money to give away books. That’s right: I would be paying to give my product to people in exchange for…very little in the way of a quantifiable return.

NetGalley is not in business to lose money. It’s in business to make money by providing a publishers’ colony. However publishers decide to define their ROI (return on investment) is how NetGalley’s going to be bringing in the money.

Follow the money.

When all other explanations fail, just follow the money.

This is handselling now.

This morning I butted into a Twitter conversation between @jackiebarbosa, @elyssapapa, and @growlycub about Romance heros/heroines who are struggling financially at the end of the book, but they shall live on love:

[blackbirdpie url=”!/MoriahJovan/status/13276067800293377″]

Which led back around to the title of the book which started the conversation I butted in on:

[blackbirdpie url=”!/jackiebarbosa/status/13279970579185664″]


[blackbirdpie url=”!/victoriajanssen/status/13286262161018880″]

Which led to:

[blackbirdpie url=”!/MoriahJovan/status/13280763256508417″]


[blackbirdpie url=”!/PortiaDaCosta/status/13281803079000064″]

This entire conversation happened in the course of an hour in casual conversation on Twitter, and money was spent. (More money would’ve been spent if the publisher had the sense to allow people out of the US to buy it, but that’s a conversation for another day.) (Also, it was $5.99 on the Kindle, which is my cutoff point for ebook prices, so there was another advantage.) As far as I know, I’m the only one who bothered to tweet that she bought it, but that’s not to say nobody else bought it.

The “need” was created.

The “need” was satisfied.

Immediately. Easy and with no friction.

There are a lot of lessons to be learned from this. Insert your favorite lesson here.

Selling shovels

You will notice I haven’t been posting much at all, much less my thoughts on ebooks and publishing. Wanna know why? I’m too busy with my burgeoning business to put any thought into a) what’s wrong with publishing (because why do I care?); b) how to go about formatting ebooks (because that changes week to week); and c) wondering if I’m ever going to get my historical swashbuckler researched and written (because I’m a writer, dammit!).

In case anybody cares, these are my current random thoughts, none of which rate the time to explore in a full-on blog post (plus, I’ve said it all before):

1) Writers: You’re screwed unless you put out your own stuff and you can market it. The old days are gone. “Getting” published is fine if that’s what you need to validate your soul. If you want better odds on getting to readers and making a little money, do it yourself. But dammit, do it right!

2) Writers: Remember that the people who made money in the gold rush didn’t make it panning for gold, chasing a vein that didn’t exist. The people selling the shovels made all the money. Learn a new skill and sell some shovels. You aren’t going to make a livable income writing for da man. Just don’t make any plans to leave your day job.

3) Book designers: Stop trying to format ebooks on a print paradigm. Ebooks are not print books. They don’t serve the same function. It’s like trying to apply a print paradigm to audiobooks. Stop it. Learn how to format serviceable, good-looking ebooks and forget about Teh Fancy.

4) Editors: Go freelance. Market your name. Make the authors who hire you put your name in the book so you can establish your brand. The curation of books in the future will depend on the editor, not the author, not the publishing house.

5) Indexers: You have a bright and shiny new field to explore. Learn how to index digitally. It’s called anchor tags.

6) Publishers: Get your metadata in gear. Seriously.

7) Publishers: The first publisher to chapter-and-verse its digital textbooks/reference/nonfiction will win the prize. What do I mean? I’ll tell you. Pick up a Bible. Any Bible, any translation, any size, any publisher. Go to John 3:16. That’s what I mean. Develop a system. Patent/trademark it then license it. Make it the standard of any good digital nonfiction book, the way good indexing is. Indexers, see #5.

That is all. I have a mountain of work to get done before I leave for NY next week.

Line of scrimmage: The interwebz

Macmillan to Amazon: Do it my way.

Amazon to Macmillan: Fuck you.

Macmillan has in its power to say, “No, fuck YOU!” to Amazon and make it stick, and newsflash: It ain’t with the indie bookstores. This is what you do, Macmillan:

Get yourself a team of programmers. Give them 36 hours. Have them put your entire catalog into an online store, both print and electronic. Exploit the Tor online store to its limits.

Print: Sell for just above wholesale and offer free shipping.

Electronic: Strip your DRM from your existing ebooks and feverishly convert your back catalog. Sell them at the wholesale mass market paperback price.

Marketing: Take out ads in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal announcing your bookstore and flip Amazon off publicly, and at the same time exploit the fact that Amazon has just seared your name into the minds of the reading public.

Your weapon: Your entire catalog.

Goal: Cut the Gordian knot that is the distribution system that has just bitchslapped you and turn a healthier profit.

You could conceivably break Amazon’s back if you succeed (and you WOULD), and other publishers decide to come with you.

I would give just about anything to see something so daring happen in publishing.

Here’s the catch: You’d have to start thinking of readers as your customers.

You know, the people who actually spend the money.

UPDATE: Oh. My. Goodness. Amazon caves. WTF? Yeah, that boy ain’t right.