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Friday, July 6, 2012

Publishers, Booksellers & Bloggers: We’re all on the same team. - Guest Post with Maggie from NYMBC


Today, I'd like to welcome a very very very special person to Literary Exploration. One of my good friends, Maggie from Not Your Mother's Book Club has graced us with her presence today to discuss how Bloggers, Booksellers, and Publishers can all work together towards a common goal: sharing and selling our favorite books. This awesome post is all from Maggie's words of wisdom, so please take the time to hear how an actual bookseller works with and appreciates bloggers.

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I feel like everywhere I go, publishers and booksellers are talking about bloggers. And we should be. This blogging thing is for real: it’s happening, it’s gaining speed and it’s big. And I hope we can all, as an industry, find a while to work with this momentum so that book culture can stay vibrant, and relevant.

Everyone is afraid of the new direction of publishing, mostly because none of us are really sure where it’s going. And while the idea of bookstores dying off fills me not only with sadness and dread, but also with (I think) a valid concern that meaningful literature will die with us, I try not to shy away from the new opportunities that our web-based lives afford us. And one of my greatest sources of comfort is bloggers.

I love bloggers. Not all of them—I don’ think there’s ANY group of people that I love ubiquitously—but I love the idea of bloggers, and I love the bloggers that I work with (what up, ladies.)

As a bookseller, my entire livelihood is dependent upon people who love books. So why wouldn’t I love bloggers? Bloggers are people who love books so much that they spend huge amounts of time and hard work just to create a space where they can TALK about books. Those are my kind of people.

So we’re clear I love bloggers? Rad. Let’s divert course for a minute.

If you know me, you likely know me as the Not Your Mother’s Book Club lady. Not Your Mother’s Book Club is Books Inc.’s author salon, which has been running since 2005. We have hosted some of the best, most exciting and talented authors thanks to our terrific partners in publishing houses. Truly, NYMBC would be nothing without the tremendous support we receive from publishers—because events with great authors are the bread and butter of what we do.

The other hat I wear is that I’m the Children’s Department Director for Books Inc., a chain of indies in the San Francisco Bay Area. And while I’m proud to say that we’re thriving, it’s no great secret that: a.) we are dependent on SALES and b.) That evil online conglomerate that shall not be named? They’re the biggest threat to what we do, what we hold dear and our livelihoods. So I have to confess: this whole blog post has a DECIDEDLY anti-evil online conglomerate that shall not be named point of view. Just for the sake of full disclosure.

As for the rest of us: We’re all on the same team here. We all LOVE books. We all want a million copies of the books we love to sell so that those authors and publishers will be rewarded for their talent and hard work, and we want more, more, more of it. We want this industry not just to survive, but also to thrive.

SO. Here’s my community-building, hand-holding, let’s-all-be-friends-because-we’re-all-on-the-same-team proposal for publishers, booksellers, librarians and bloggers, IE the people who care THE MOST about books (and do not use them as a loss leader to get names into databases so that we can more effectively sling flat screen TVs) can work together, happily, to create a vibrant space for books, and the people who love them.

It starts with publishers. All the major houses are realizing that bloggers matter. Anyone who went to BEA 2012 could see it, and it left a lot of booksellers feeling, well, a little left out. And while I do feel like some of that was due a little to sour grapes, I also felt like I saw some things that did lend credence to that complaint. We sell your books! Don’t we matter anymore? I think we do, and not just because I am one. We do, not just because we’re the ones who SELL your books, but because we’re the ones who host your authors for events. And that’s pretty much the coolest thing we do. We’re a gateway from the publishing house to the public. We officiate that space, we curate it, and (if I do say so myself) we make it awesome. So don’t forget about us, publishing. Use us as your intermediary to bloggers.

But now we have moved swiftly into what booksellers must do. This is very important: we have to find our local bloggers, cultivate relationships with them, respect them, and treat them as our colleagues. Because that what bloggers are. They’re our literary colleagues. They’re fans. AND THEY DON’T EVEN GET PAID TO DO IT. So we should be finding ways to make sure that our stores are a meeting place, a home away from home, and a location for social gathering for these people. We should be using our events to connect bloggers with their favorite authors. If that means setting up interviews, do it. If that means personally introducing bloggers we know are fans to authors in the signing line, simply so that they have someone outside of themselves to break the ice, then we should be doing that too. If that means chatting about books, for the love of God, do it! We should be making sure our guests have had a meaningful, personal experience in our stores, and especially at our events. IE, we should be doing our job as customer service professionals. To. A. Tee. Because that’s how we’re going to stay around, and how we will stay relevant. Basically, we should be acting as gracious hosts.

But that leads us in to what it means to be a gracious guest. And here’s where we get into the uncomfortable truth about purchasing power, which is truly the crux of this whole plan. Because without your dollars, that space, where you get to meet your favorite author? It no longer exists. So bloggers, please: even if the publishing house sends you an ARC, if you’re lucky enough to have a store near you hosting an event, buy a book! Use it as a give-away if you don’t want to keep it. Give it to a friend. The publishers will be asking that bookstore, ALMOST AS SOON AS THE EVENT IS OVER what the sales were. So bringing your book that you bought on that evil online conglomerate that shall not be named is NOT supporting the event, or EVEN that author’s tour! Keep doing that, and there will be no more tours. And that will be lame, sad and super detrimental to the future course of literature.

Now, this doesn’t mean buying books you don’t like. If you don’t like it, aren’t interested, HATED the author’s talk, don’t buy the book. That’s fair. Those are valid reasons NOT to buy. But that it’s cheaper to buy online? Not valid. When that happens it justifies the worst complaints about bloggers, because you’re no longer contributing the industry that creates the literature you’re passionate about.

I have to follow all of this with saying that the bloggers I work with set what I think should be the professional standard for blogger/bookstore etiquette. I have little tornadoes of neuroticism before EVERY event I throw, and I only start to feel better once I see my bloggers there. As soon as I do, I literally feel my shoulders loosen, feel a smile spreading. That’s how it should be.

And I like to think that the basis of this great synergy is because Not Your Mother’s Book Club, as a brand and as a group, has the utmost respect and appreciation for our blogger counterparts.

If the amazing authors that publishers send to us (seriously, AMAZING) are the bread and butter of what we do, the bloggers are something like the dessert.

And really, what’s a meal without carbs, fat or sugar?

Lame. That’s what.

26 comments:

  1. Fabulous post! Plus, anytime someone can work in the word "rad," it's a bonus that can't be overlooked and should be celebrated.

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    1. Hahahah yes, she talks like this in real life too :D Love her<3

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    2. I think it's rad that you read my post. Thanks, Jenn. And thanks, Anna, for posting it.

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  2. Great post!!! I'm still new to blogging and before starting my blog I had never heard ARC or any other way to purchase books besides the local bookstore.I don't know about everyone else but I like to walk into a bookstore,browse for hours, and then purchase my books.I cry a little inside when I see a bookstore closing because I just love the "bookstore atmosphere" :D


    Very informative post.I also found it to be very funny,loved the whole carbs and dessert joke!!!

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    1. I know what you mean. I love working in a book store, and I love being able to work with indie booksellers as a blogger. I think it's important for us all to remember that we're working towards the same things and to stop judging each other!

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  3. This is such a wonderful and insightful post!!!! Reading this I feel proud being a Blogger and it makes me happy that there are people out there who recognize us and realize what we do! And we love what we do, we love to read and also we love to share!!

    I perfectly agree with the buying books at Author Events! While I am in Germany and don't go to many signings, only because there are nearly none - my Co-Blogger lives in Chicago where all the awesome Authors always stop on their tour. When she goes, we as a Blog buy the books from the Authors. We not only want to support the Authors but also the Bookstore who hosts this event.

    Wonderful post! I'm truly excited to be part of this new direction and I'm looking forward seeing how this changes and hopefully even grows during the next years!

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    1. Yes! Seriously, this lady is amazing and it makes me hop for the future of blogger/bookseller relationships <3 I always buy books at events, or if I'm in the area of an indie I'll stop in and browse their selection. Thanks for supporting your indies<33

      I'm definitely excited to see where the future of blogging is going to take us!

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  4. I do think the sour face with a lot of the professionals is due to the new baby in the house. It happens. But they shouldn't be forgotten. Bloggers are a great medium but we wouldn't be anywhere without the professionals. In reality we're basically one step above just regular readers. We're awesome, I know, but so are the professionals and cultivating a relationship with them is something I wholly agree with.

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    1. I totally agree. I think we get a bad rap because of a few unpleasant experiences caused by a select few, and I think, like anything else, people fear what's new. Booksellers can never be replaced by bloggers, they're the people who physically put books in people's hands in hopes that they'll be able to escape into reading. I'm glad there are booksellers out there who can recognize what we, as bloggers, bring to the table!

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  5. What a wonderful post. I buy books both online and in stores. I am on a very tight budget so I have to use my book money wisely, but I do go to bookstores and to author events and always purchase books there. I just recently went to an event and paid almost $8 more for a book, but it was worth it to support the bookshop and the author.

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    1. Since I started working at Barnes and Noble I buy most of my books there, since I get such a big discount, but I do purchase books for giveaways through Amazon since I get cheap prime as a student. Amazon is always going to be good for things like textbooks and electronics as well, but I do try to buy all my books at an actual book store. When I'm in the area of an indie I always stop by and purchase something just to show support.

      Even at an event I'll buy all my books there. It's worth spending the extra money to know I'm supporting the store and helping to bring back more authors.

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  6. I have to say, I agree with Amy. I, too, have to watch how I spend my book money. I simply cannot drive an hour to the nearest bookstore each time I want a book. That's a lot of gas, extra $$ for the books, and is simply not feasible. I am happy, however, to browse and buy from a bookstore if I'm in the area or at an event.

    I'm assuming that the "evil online conglomerate that shall not be named" starts with an A? I get why independent booksellers don't like them, I truly do. Much like WalMart vs local stores, it's simply impossible to compete with them, price-wise. But I don't feel bad for buying from them when they are simply the best option for me much of the time.

    Thanks for the informative, thought-provoking post. I honestly do love booksellers. ;-)

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    1. I totally get that Amazon is a cheaper option and it benefits our wallets as book addicts, but I think the main point of this post is that booksellers DO appreciate bloggers and they DO support what we do, because we do it for free. In return, we should support them. With all the drama going around in the blogging world between Librarians, Booksellers, Publishers, and even other bloggers, I think it's nice to see that someone who has such a big influence on her indies supports bloggers in such a big way. I for one, am happy to spend the extra $8 at my local indie to help support the people who so openly support me.

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    2. Obviously, I'm incredibly biased against the behemoth. But what I will say is this: the hidden cost behind their low prices is literary community. And I gotta say, we have a LOT of room under our tent. Come on in :)

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  7. Really diggin this post! I think it's understandable that readers can't *always* buy from indies because of the aforementioned reasons however when going to book signings and author events hosted by the indie, I think it would great if people would buy from the store (even if they brought their own additional copies because they owned them before the event, etc). I always compare this to the thought process behind buying local fruits and veggies, you're giving back to your community! :)

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    1. So true! Which is why I shop at my local farmer's market and not Safeway for my veggies, and why I shop at my local bookstores for my books :)

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  8. Loved this post!!! I totally agree that publishers and booksellers should support bloggers, and that in return we should support our idea by buying from them. But we bloggers should also respect and support all the individuals behind the events, because without them we would have book signings!!

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    1. So true! We must support our local events, otherwise we won't have any anymore!

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  9. Great post. I was actually just talking to my sister before about how my town doesn't have a local bookstore (I wish!). We only have a B&N about 20 minutes away, and I live in a BIG town. But everytime a bookstore opens up it shuts down so quickly. It's very sad because today, I wanted to purchase a book and I had to order online (which, with shipping only costs a dollar or two less than buying in the store anyway). It made me sad because as a blogger I would love to have a local place that I could cultivate a relationship with (not to mention a place that actually holds events like author signings)!

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    1. I think it really is sad that so many indie bookstores are closing, and really it's due to the fact that books are cheaper online and people would rather save money than support a place that they can develop an actual relationship with. I mean, I work at BN, but we don't do very many events and if we do it's during the day and it's not a personal thing at all. I've been talking to my store about doing some YA signings and basically they're down for anything, just no one wants to do it LOL! You should def talk to your BN about doing some stuff!!

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  10. Great post Anna and Maggie! I love booksellers! It's disappointing that I don't have any indie bookstores in my town or in the towns near me because if I did well then I would be buying all my books there. Howeve whenever I am out of town and do happen to come across an indie store then I definitely stop in and pick something up and also end up having great conversations with the workers. I think booksellers are really important and do so much to help authors and their books. I especially have heard so much about NYMBC though especially from you Anna and I hope I can visit it one day! :)

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    1. Even though I work at BN and get a discount on my books, I always purchase stuff at Books Inc. when I'm there! Usually I'll browse and try to find something I really really want, and ofc I always buy books for events to help support!

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  11. Aww, reading this post makes me wish EVEN MORE that I lived near you so I could attend this awesome events! I really enjoyed reading this post esp since all that ARC talk got me super bummed about being a blogger. I think it's so wonderful that you have such a great indie and it's clear how dedicated/passionate they are. I like the idea of it being a big support system because in the end, we're all in for the love of books. Fantastic post!

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    1. I already told you that you need to move here!!! Then you can come visit Books Inc. ALL THE TIME! I definitely love my indie, and I'm glad for their support with bloggers. They even ask us to write reviews for their site! It's definitely a place I love going and I love the community feel I get from being there. It's something you really can't get from an online store.

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  12. I think it's absolutely essential when you go to events hosted by Indies to buy books at the Indie, especially because like Maggie says the publisher always asks how many books sold which I think is a deciding factor for whether more authors get sent there or not so, I guess boiling it down to a single sentence: More book sales at events = MORE EVENTS. Yayy.

    Anyways I love this post!

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    1. It's definitely important, and so many people don't get that. I mean sure, I have ARCs of most of the books when I go, but I always just get those signed for giveaway and then buy my own finished copies. If I don't support the store I know they'll have a hard time getting authors to come back and I love those events, not only because I get to meet some of my favorite authors, but because I get to socialize and network! Thanks for being AWESOME!

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According to FTC guidelines I must point out that all of the books that I review on my blog were either purchased by me or were given to me by the author/publisher. All words and opinions expressed are my own and I do not receive any monetary goods for writing reviews. I will state in my review which books I have received for review and which books I have purchased/borrowed. All images and synopsis are taken from Goodreads.com unless otherwise stated.
 
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