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The Business of Buying Books

Going to a brick and mortar indie store is wonderful for finding new things, but less foolproof if there’s something in particular you want. I would prefer to do small bookstores, ideologically, but practically, customer service is hit and miss, inventory is hit and miss and ordering in, the same. Nonetheless I keep trying and bought from 4 indie bookstores (including Mona Lisait) this month.

But in general, I’ve observed there are two foolproof ways to buy books.
1. Find an author in the wild, in person, who has a book in hand, and exchange that book for cash or book.
2. Use Amazon.

The majority of books I’ve ordered from small press online do actually come. BookThug can do it. Fewer & Further Press has got it down.

Two books I’ve ordered (who shall remain nameless) from small press online and two more from authors online never came. Pursue as I like but it would be to throw good energy after bad.

The thing with bookstores is, often, if someone is ill and gets behind other workers can step to the plate but in small press, one person tries to do it all and is the only person who knows what has been done or needs doing.

Going to book launches gets that direct sample-and-consume thing going. Amazon is almost as fast as picking a book off a table. They may treat their workers badly as NYTimes mentioned, but they have one aspect of sale down. People who don’t have their act together should outsource it and not offer what they cannot manage.

What is sales?

That would be: customer indicates which item, gives money, is acknowledged, and then gets the product.

That’s not hard is it?

Producing a book is a different skill set than selling. Making the rounds selling a book in person is a different habit that building a website and plugging in pre-built tools, checking when a sale is made and shipping it. But it’s not as if the whole sales procedure is veiled in mysticism.

As I mentioned complained about before, after almost two months I got one book from a indie bookstore who sent the wrong book. This newest instalment is different, but is as frustrating.

August 4th I started to order a book from a publisher. My order tried to go thru 3 times over the next 5 days. The last step of order wouldn’t load. Each time I sent an email to the publisher. No email was acknowledged.

I received a handwritten letter dated a week after my last attempt, postmarked a week after that, but received 2 months after my first attempt because I was away for 6 weeks starting the day after it was postmarked.

For that reason we can discard some of the time lag but not the other aspect — they sent a random book. Not the book I had specified in my online forms to the publisher on its site. Their newest featured title.

I have omitted names to protect the ignorant.

Our website does not permit international transactions. On the other hand, yours are the second to make this attempt.

Rather than promote ill-will, I am sending you a copy of _________’s book. You may remit $17 US or not.

I presume the other person who wanted one of their titles internationally is baffled to receive the random selection of the one I wanted. It could be a wrong-envelop issue potentially.

It doesn’t have to be that hard.

Paypal will generate mailing labels, invoices, notify when something has been bought.

I received an order while travelling, was notified, had 3 of my titles with me, and sent the one which was ordered to Korea from a small village in France within a couple days.

If a merchant account with paypal makes the book cost more, one can set the price if thru paypal higher to compensate. Find out rates for domestic, nearby countries and international and build in that option.

If selling books is purely a moonlighting hobby, one can finance whatever people want to get from you out of your own pocket. Go all the way – a personal literary philanthropy project. Free books for everyone all the time. If it’s a business, go all the way that way – one should recover at least material costs and run it like a business.

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