I recently did a survey of authors as to “how” they go about buying the books that they like. I wanted to try and nail down the “kernel of knowledge” that motivates one to buy a particular book-be it by author, cover, blurbs, word of mouth, etc. The interesting thing that I noticed as the comments came in and the topic evolved, was not so much how one buys a book, but where. The hands down overall venue was the bookstore and not Amazon, or any other internet point of purchase.
That tells volumes to me, pun intended. The fact that most people wanted to feel, read, and have the book in their hands when making their decision shows me that even though the internet is a powerful purchasing tool, it still hasn’t replaced many of the habits of book readers. Ergo, I could postulate that the lack of shelf space inhibits and great reduces exposure for that sale, regardless of genre, price point, or any other factor. And that “missing link” may be the mainstream distribution of that book, and that would make sense as no movie or music product can survive without that aspect either.
To take it one step further regardless of what may be an unpopular and most probably highly criticized statement that it portends is that those books with the power of the major publishers behind them are the most successful and their ability to place books in those stores are what is missing in the lack of substantial sales of self-published and independent titles. So you may ask, who didn’t know that? I did realize that, but it was confirmed with the evidence that came from those who do actually buy books and are authors themselves.
This is not to say that a book cannot become successful outside that machine, but it makes the odds considerably less favorable. So now the issue is how to overcome those odds or build a better boat. In this revolution of publishing, the old school is still the dominant method of getting distribution. One day soon, that may change.
“[Bad] writing is not easier than good writing; it’s just as hard to make a toilet seat as it is a castle window — only the view is different.” ~ Ben Hecht (thanks Philip!)