As the world of publishing and book distribution changes, there are new challenges to be solved. Here’s one issue – getting POD books into bricks-and-mortar bookstores – and one solution. My new trade paperback editions are printed by Createspace, and I’m really pleased with the product. These are print-on-demand books, though, which adds a wrinkle to print distribution. POD books are not returnable and orders often need to be prepaid. In traditional book distribution (for example, mass market paperbacks) books are both returnable (for up to two years) and are shipped on credit. The payment cycle in traditional publishing can run 180 days after shipping, so you can see that there’s a huge cash flow difference here for bookstores. There’s also a risk, because they have to order books and pay for them without being certain they can sell them. Finally, there may be corporate policies to follow: because Createspace is an Amazon company, some bookstores will not order from them on principle.
I can’t do anything about a lot of this, but I can do something about those bookstores who have no mechanism to order from Createspace. This solution has been derived in working with some of those bookstores, and I’m happy to do it for others. Most of these stores are independent bookstores, not chain stores, and they all have the ability to buy books from local authors. We’ve used this support-local-authors mechanism to get my new books into these stores, stores which know that they can sell my books. They contact me and tell me what titles they want in what quantity. I charge them 50% of the retail price, plus the shipping direct to their store. They pre-pay me, then I place the order with Createspace, giving their address for delivery. I independently mail them some postcards and signed bookplates. This seems to work out well and it makes readers and booksellers happy. If other bookstores are interested, please just get in touch.