Before I became an independent artist, I believed convenience was king. I loved shopping on Amazon and hated having to do “special orders” through bookstores. I still do love the convenience of finding pretty much anything I need on Amazon and being able to shop naked at 3am.
However, now that I’m a full-blown indie author, my priorities have shifted. I’ve had the opportunity to talk with booksellers from across the country and get to know the book business from the inside. This, coupled with seeing the inner (shady) workings of Amazon and others has made me encourage folks to buy my books directly from their favorite indie shops. Yes, sometimes they aren’t carried and you need to order them. But the wait isn’t terrible and you get to keep the money in your community, in cool businesses.
Of course, my book is still available through the big guys, and I’m delighted when anyone buys my book at all. So, I won’t besmirch folks from going through Barnes & Noble or Amazon to get a copy. Not every community has a cool indie bookstore and the internet is beautiful for this equality of access.
Many folks in my community, because they want to support a hip indie artist (i.e. Me) have asked how they can buy the book so that I keep the lion’s share of the profit. Since so many people have asked, here’s a list, in order of greatest profit to me to lowest, of where the money goes when you buy a book from a certain retailer:
1) Buying in cash from me: I keep 100% of the profit and pay no shipping, so I get about $10 per book if you buy at full price of $15. I usually sell them for $12 in person, too, so you save a couple bucks.
2) Buying online through my website. I pay paypal fees, and you pay shipping & tax. I don’t always offer books through my site, because they come out of my stock, and I have to do the order fulfillment myself or outsource to an assistant (thanks, Holly!). This way I make about $7.5 per full price copy. Again, I tend to sell books for $12 because I’m not paying a retailer to stock me.
3) Buying my ebook through me. My ebook costs about $7.99 through my website, and you can get any format instantly delivered to you. I keep 100% of the retail minus paypal fees. If you’re an ebook fan, this is rad.
4) Buying my ebook through Smashwords I love Smashwords. They sell every format of ebook there is. I make about 60% of the retail price off ebooks sold through Smashwords and their affiliates. So, I make about $5 per ebook through them.
5) Buying my ebook through Kindle/iBookstore/B&N Same.
6) Buying in person through an indie bookstore. Most bookstores take my set wholesale discount of 50%. Some only take 40% (thanks, guys!). This means that I make about $3.50 per sale. But of course it means I don’t have to fulfill the order myself AND it means you’re supporting local retailers AND it means you can buy them from a place where I am not. Right now, I’m carried by these amazing indie retailers: Bluestockings in New York City, Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego, Charis Books in Atlanta, Modern Times in San Francisco, Pegasus Books in Oakland & Berkeley. Lunatic Fringe is also available to order through pretty much every bookstore in the US and abroad. Just ask for it.
7) Buying online through any retailer. Amazon, B&N and indie bookstores all order my book from the printer directly when you place an order. With the exception of Amazon (I’ll explain below), it doesn’t matter who you order through, you’ll get the same book ordered from the same place. Because my books are Print on Demand, they aren’t made until they’re ordered, which means they’re greener and there’s no warehousing costs. In all cases, I make about $3 per book sold.
8 ) Buying online through Amazon. I still make about $3 per book through Amazon, but that profit isn’t going to a local bookstore that pays taxes and remembers your name when you walk in the door. Plus, books bought through Amazon will have a slightly different cover, different page stock, and different binding. This is because my books supplied through Amazon come from CreateSpace, their own POD arm. It’s not a huge deal, but if you’re an aesthete like me, you’ll notice the difference.
Again, I’m grateful that anyone wants to spend their hard-earned money on my art, so I’m thrilled that you’d buy my book from anyone. Even the dude selling my book on the blanket on the street. Seriously. If any of you see a dude selling my book on a blanket on the street take a picture and send it to me please because that would make my day.
Money flows. Once it’s out of your hands, you can no longer control its vector. But, as someone who has money and uses money to support tastes, culture & causes, you get to divert that flow in the direction of your choice. I find the most gratification when I realize my personal power in making that choice. And as we near the biggest commercial time of the year, I hope you get to make choices that make you feel good, too.