Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Change is Good


It's sometimes difficult to accept. Just ask Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Russo who claims, "The Amazon threat is real." In an interview with Publishers Weekly, he blames Amazon for putting the independent bookstores out of business. But the fact is Rich, indies have put themselves out of business, in part by adhering to a an antiquated system of returns. I've had books published by majors and small presses. While my "big" books were carried by the independent bookstores for as long as they sold, the independent books stores were always uncomfortable with the small press productions. They feared that my the titles might be "POD" and therefore "unreturnable." In fact, they would often sell my small press efforts "On consignment only."

I assume Richard Russo doesn't have to worry about returns.

Now that the digital age of E-Books is here and I am selling hundreds of thousands of them per year, I also no longer have to worry about returns. Sure my stuff comes out in paper and audio, but readers are embracing change. They are reading more than ever and they are devouring E-Books.

I'm sorry for independent booksellers. I used to love to browse the shelves to see what was new by my favorite authors. But later on, when I became an author myself, I could see the writing on the table: I wasn't going to survive for very long in a system of returns that allowed for booksellers to remove my product from their shelves after only a few weeks. It also meant that being published by a small press was useless. If I were to survive, I needed to be published by a major legacy publisher. Only then could I guarantee that my books would be carried by all the stores.

Now I am published by Thomas & Mercer. I couldn't be happier. They not only know how to produce a great book, they know how to sell directly to the reader. Amazon embraced change because readers were begging for that change. Amazon hasn't put booksellers out of business so much as they have liberated authors from the chains and bonds of a system that crushed us.

Yes, Richard Russo, the Amazon threat is real.

Thanks God almighty....


  1. I miss independent book stores too....I used to enjoy wandering the aisles and discovering authors and books I'd never heard of. I also used to love checking out record bins in stores like Sam Goody's and Tower Records. I used to have hair down to my shoulders and listened to cassettes too. It's ancient history.

    Change happens. Each of us and the industries we work in evolve and grow, and you either adapt to the changes or you die. Amazon (and other e-publishers) have created opportunities for many of us that were never available..... I'm sorry that bookstores whose success were based on an archaic business formula are struggling, but it's not Amazon's fault (no matter how much guys like Russo whine and point fingers).

  2. Absolutely Kevin....and lets' not forget that it was the Barnes and Nobles and Borders blitzkrieg of the 90's that attempted to crush all indie bookstores, those establishments often setting up right next door to indie bookshops...