Local / independent bookstore strategy

Long-time readers of this newsletter know that Sunbury Press has had a program for many years to sell directly to the local and independent bookstores. This arrangement bypasses the middle-man distributorships and leads to more revenue for the publisher and higher royalties for our authors.
We have recently refreshed our list of independent bookstores around the country and find that it has increased to over 1200 potential customers! Imagine if we could sell just one book to each — or ten or 100 for that matter. Sales would be on the upswing!
We will be ramping up our interactions with this list through email campaigns. This will be geared towards our typical 40% discount / net 30 / returnable arrangement with them. We want to focus on this as we turn away (for a while) from Barnes and Noble.
Any author who wants a copy of the list of bookstores in your area, just reach out. We’re happy to send it if you intend to do outreach yourself. Independent bookstores are usually better outlets to have book signings / readings.
Some of you have been very proactive in contacting media. As you know, we have unlimited access to the Cision publicity platform and have been adjusting how we use it. Rather than pitching book review opportunities to media types (which has resulted in mailing lots of free copies with limited results), we would prefer to request author interviews. Building this earned media can have a tremendous impact on your book sales. We’re finding a simpler, more direct message has been more effective that our sell-sheet style pitches. The best time to pitch is when something is happening in the news that relates to your book.
If you are interested in a targeted media list to work on yourself, I would be more than happy to share. Just let me know what parameters you are looking for — region / metro areas / areas of interest. You might start with media in your immediate vicinity to try to build relationships — or seek specific media interested in your content. There are over three million personalities in the database!

Bookstore news

Recent news about bookstores has been a mixed bag. Longtime readers of this newsletter know I’ve been on a death watch for Barnes and Noble for a couple years. We’ve recently worked out a direct arrangement with them and are trying to make a go of it, but they are also in an ever weakening position. Recently, it was announced they would be closing eight more stores in the coming year. I wouldn’t be surprised if their eBook business was sold off to Kobo and they get out of this losing business. EBook sales remain flat or down and have plateaued at 20% of all book sales. The vast majority of eBook sales are fiction titles.
While B&N is up and down, The Last Word in Charlotte, North Carolina went bankrupt this past week. While they sold mostly used books and media, they were on our list of independent customers. We’ve noticed a decided slowing in the payments coming from independents of late. Many are more than 90 days past due. We’ve recently sent another round of dunning emails, some going unanswered. I worry if I follow up I will discover a couple more bookstores exiting the business. This bears watching. In a strong economy, to still have business failures in this industry indicates there are structural changes afoot.
And here’s our culprit …. Amazon! We are all very familiar with their global online offerings. In fact, they are about one-third of our business and about half of the overall book trade (Barnes is 17% overall — the only other player over 10%). Amazon recently opened a brick and mortar bookstore in New York City near the site of a former Borders store (boy do I miss those!)