Most of us have watched with interest as books and publishing have changed over the last twenty or so years. Online bookshops are prolific. Self-published authors have successfully produced their own books, marketed them and sold enough to keep writing. The term Indie publishing has replaced the less flattering ‘vanity publishing’ label, with the establishment of large reputable companies such as Ingram Spark, Bookbaby and Lulu. E-books and audio books have emerged as fruitful ways to enjoy books. And don’t we all love the wonderful atmosphere of a real physical bookshop? In this post I’d like to discuss some of these different alternatives.
You can buy books from online stores that have no physical shop to visit, but which stock a wide range of material, including books published independently. Many of these are springing up on the internet and mushrooming with market demand. Of course, Amazon (American) was the starter for this, followed by Fishpond and Booktopia (Australian), e-bay (American), Alibaba (Chinese) and Book Depository (British). Most of these sellers are huge but there are also smaller platforms where you can buy (and sell) books, including your pre-loved darlings These include less well-known sites such as www.mightyape.com.au and https://wordery.com, and for second hand books only https://wob.com.
A part of this online market is the innovation of the ‘print on demand’ model, where no copy is printed unless it already has a buyer. So you can save the planet at the same time. With ‘print on demand’, let’s say that Ms Scarlett orders a book online, it is then printed at the press nearest to where she lives (large companies have printing presses, binding etc in locations all over the world), and shipped to her immediately. ‘Print on demand’ is also great for authors; they no longer have to guess how many copies to print, ending up with a storehouse of books in the shed, and no avenue of distribution.
Plus these options, we have e-books, available from companies like www.kobo.com, www.kindle.com or www.googleplay.com. Similarly, audio books can be downloaded from such platforms as www.audible.com (books read by professional actors and readers and incurring a small fee), https://librivox.org (read by volunteers and no cost involved) and others which thrive on a worldwide desire for knowledge and entertainment.
All these options terrific if you are a reader. If you happen to be an author, they offer a variety of ways to get your book out there. But there can be a down side - with all these outlets your book can get lost in the huge ocean of too much choice. To avoid this it can be a great idea to go local, even for online sales. Why let the giants get all the moola?
Here in Western Australia we can access a flourishing and well-stocked local online bookshop, Read the Write Book (www.readthewritebook.com.au) run out of Albany. It is an Australian owned and operated small business dedicated to finding loving homes for new and used books. The talented and creative person behind this enterprise is Kylie Abecca. Kylie has a huge range, all available immediately. The model here is to take books on consignment and sell them on behalf of the owner/author - resulting in a win, win, win (for author, shop, and buyer.) Kylie also offers copies signed by their authors, as well as a pre-loved section. I am proud that my own book Isla Rising will soon be available on the www.readthewritebook.com site, as well as in a print-on-demand version (though Ingram Spark) available from my own site www.islarising.com.
Old-fashioned bookshops are divine places and will never go out of business, but isn’t it nice to have so many alternatives? I wish you happy reading in the media of your choice.