The Best of Both Worlds of Bookstores


grandma and coraYou’ve heard me expound on the virtues of independent bookstores (indie-bookstores) and how important they are in the world of book selling. They are gatekeepers to literacy, pushing good books out in front of our noses, and encouraging all ages to read. Each small bookstore has its specialty, and personality. My latest favorite is River Oaks Bookstore on Westheimer. I offered scones and creme fraiche at my book signing there. You know me, it’s really all about the food. I’ve been to a book signing at River Oaks where there was a full meal served. Now that’s a book signing to go to!

River Oaks is good about encouraging their authors to offer food that might be part of the world of the story. You’ll notice I didn’t have bug crackers, or chocolate covered earthworms on the menu, so the world of The Dry wasn’t on the menu. You’re welcome. I featured scones and clotted cream and cream fraiche and rough-cut marmalade because I was promoting the world in Deadly Thyme, a British thriller.

This past weekend I was signing books at Barnes & Noble on West Gray. There were other authors there. I believe that is how I will be signing books at bookstores from now on. Other authors mean more fans, and my fans get an opportunity to enjoy other authors, so it will be happy times all around. New model for book signing – going forward.

Actually this blog post is about Barnes & Noble. I’ve probably mentioned in earlier blogs how each Barnes & Noble is like a sovereign kingdom. In other words, each Barnes & Noble is unique because of their manager.

How can you as the reader appreciate this? Because your Barnes & Noble will cater to your needs, or not, depending on what their individual policies are regarding requests. For instance, if you want to hold a meeting for your book club on the second Tuesday of every month at your B & N, the manager either gives you a thumbs up or a thumbs down. I believe B & N’s live or die according to what the answer would be from that manager.

What does this mean for authors? How well are you loved by your B & N? Have you asked or been approached to have a signing? The answer is critical to the indie-published author especially. It’s hard enough to rock the stigma that is very real about indie-books (that’s another blog post). Here’s where the book leather scrapes the pavement. Listen up, I’ve even heard of traditionally published author’s being given the “brush-off” by their B & N in regards to a book signing. Seriously? Yes. Can you imagine the answer to an indie-published author? How about a huge, whopping no! What a shame.

On a more positive note I can now say I know of two Barnes & Nobles that readily offer book signing opportunities for indie-authors (indie-authors are independent authors who may be self-published but often are published through small press publishers. I am an indie-author.) My experience signing books yesterday at the Houston Barnes & Noble on West Gray was marvelous! I sold out of The Dry that they had ordered through Ingram and I had to call for reinforcement books from home and still, I kept selling. They told me I was the “best-selling” author of the day at the store. That means I sold more books that any other author, not just my friends who were signing their books but of all the author’s books across the store. What? It’s true. I’m sorry. There is always the part of me that wants to apologize for outselling friends. They are as earnest as I am. But I have to say – I bring a wasp.

So what say I of this Barnes & Noble? I love them. That store was humming with business yesterday or dare I say, buzzzzzzzing? Every one of those store workers were fresh-faced happy people wanting to do all and everything to make all of us successful. That’s a store that will still be there next year.

Barnes & Nobles as sovereign states? Yes. Will some of them fall away, widening the crevasse between the reader and brick and mortar stores and giving Amazon more of a foothold in their bid to take over the world? Yes.

Upper management at Barnes & Noble did an interesting thing when they allowed autonomous rule in their stores, because what they essentially created were independent bookstores (like indies) with a common name. Plus, they probably offer benefits. It’s an interesting business model.

What can you do? Find a B & N that you like. If you’re ever in the Barnes & Noble on West Gray say hi to Michelle. Also, if you are interested and I hope you are, go to your local B & N throughout the U.S. & where ever you are and please ask them to order my books. They are in the catalog. More interested in an e-book? My e-books are available on Nook, too.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart! Big hugs!

Keep reading great books.

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