Indie Exclusives?

Posted by In: Writing 3 Comments


What if indie authors sold only to indie bookstores?

Anyone who casts even a casual glance at the publishing industry knows about the battle between Amazon and Hachette. Frankly, I don’t have a problem with Amazon, my book is an Amazon exclusive, in fact. I also don’t feel like I have any vested interest in the traditional publishing industry. Let’s be honest, for a guy like me, where traditional publishers put up a wall, Amazon put up a ladder.

Still, there’s something ironic about the indie-spirited being beholden to the queen mother of corporate giants. It occurs to me that with all the options available to indie authors, it doesn’t have to be that way. What if there was a groundswell of independent authors making their books available only to independent booksellers? How would that change the publishing landscape? Would indie bookstores go for it? Would authors?

It pains me to imagine my local community without independent book stores like Blue Willow Bookshop, Brazos Bookstore, or Murder by the Book. I’d be proud to go indie exclusive, but I don’t have the clout to get my books into indie bookstores. However, there are many authors, authors with loyal fan bases, that could make this happen.

I think.

Of course, there’s money to consider, but I’m a purist and believe the art of writing should always trump the business of writing.



Comments: 3

  • Mark Dostert
    6 years ago


    Indeed, indeed! Oh, how the business of writing often does trump the art of writing. Your points about Amazon and what it has done for many writers who haven’t been able to crack the traditional publishing ceiling–be it with a big NY house, a mid-size publisher, or a small/university press–are well stated. Amazon certainly has allowed legit writers (like you!) to offer us their work when the the traditional publishers declined. It definitely is a matter of gray–not black and white. What a fascinating proposition you’ve made–big-time authors only allowing their books to be sold at the independent stores! I’d love to experience that alternate universe and see what happens! Imagine hundreds lined outside Brazos Bookstore in next month waiting for Richard Ford’s ‘Let Me Be Frank’ to be released at midnight! Or the next Karen Russell story collection because it wasn’t available through Amazon! Something related to this happened a few months ago with the novel ‘California,’ which is published by Hachette. Amazon blocked or delayed its pre-ordering, so Stephen Colbert, who loved the book, placed a link to the book’s sales page at (America’s largest indy bookstore) on his website and urged his audience to buy the book from Powells and put it on the NY Times Bestseller List without Amazon’s help! And it happened! For several weeks, it was in the top three in hardback fiction!

    So yes, you and Stephen Colbert! Great minds think alike!


  • Ches
    6 years ago

    I think what spurred this line of thought is this quote by literary agent Andrew Wylie:

    “It’s very clear to me, and to those I represent, that what Amazon is doing is very detrimental to the publishing industry and the interests of authors. If Amazon is not stopped, we are facing the end of literary culture in America.”

    Obviously, I’m on the outskirts of the publishing industry and I don’t have a head for business, but does it really HAVE to be the end of literary culture in America? Can’t Amazon be sidestepped through the vast network of indie bookstores we already have? It’ll hurt financially to be sure, but isn’t our literary culture worth the sacrifice?

    I’m giving serious consideration to dropping CreateSpace, dropping the eBook, and going all in with IgramSpark’s print services (yet another corporate giant, but what are you gonna do?). The reason for this is that Ingram’s quality is superior and they have a hard cover offering. Even going that route, Amazon can’t be avoided, IngramSpark will distribute to them, but I could set the price point high for their distribution channels, buy it in bulk at cost, and pass along those savings to any indie store that would have me. I’d be on the losing end of that deal financially, but at least my book would be in it’s intended format and sold the way I always dreamed it would be. And It’s not like I’ve quit my day job. I love books as objects—the heft, the cover, the interior design flourishes—and have noticed that people who read the print version of my book seem to enjoy it more.

    Anyway, I’m idealistic to be sure, probably very naive, but I’d love to see literary titans that say they support indie bookstores put their money where their mouth is.

    • Mark Dostert
      6 years ago

      Very true! That is why it is encouraging to see such big-name bestselling authors who’ve won all the literary prizes come to Brazos Bookstore–Gary Shteyngart, Junot Diaz, Richard Ford, etc. All the best with deciding between CreateSpace and IgramSpark and placing ‘Under the Suns’ in stores!

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