Bookselling in the 21st Century | Tuesday, 2/15/2011
Kassia Krozser (Booksquare.com)
Panelists: Lori James (All Romance/OmniLit/ARe Cafe), Jenn Northington (WORD), Kevin Smokler (Booktour.com), Jessica Stockton-Bagnulo (Greenlight Bookstore), Malle Vallik (Harlequin Enterprises Ltd)
The front lines of change of publishing are populated by booksellers. Faced with challenges from mega-stores, online selection, and consumer shifts to digital reading, booksellers are sometimes seen as old-fashioned and marginalized. That image couldn’t be further from the truth. This panel:
- Features three booksellers: an events manager from a traditional
bookstore, a bookseller who recently fulfilled her dream of opening
her own bricks-and-mortar store, and a digital bookseller whose focus
on niche generated positive word-of-mouth.
- Focuses on the role of booksellers in today’s online world, and how that roles is evolving to remain relevant to readers.
- Discusses the importance of working within the community to build customer loyalty.
- Explores the idea of reaching beyond traditional bookstore geographic boundaries to find new customers and build name recognition.
- Examines the state of digital books for traditional booksellers and digital-only booksellers.
- Examines the challenges booksellers face as readers adopt digital reading, from formats to devices to a new kind of customer service.
- Considers marketing bookstores on a budget, from traditional means to social media.
- Looks at how today’s booksellers are forming their own networks for brainstorming, sharing ideas, and community-building.
As booksellers move toward ebooks and online sales, they need to teach customers how to buy and read books, and they need to be available 24/7. If you want an ebook, you want it now.
Booksellers should be flexible and in touch with their customers.
- Make digital versions available concurrent with print book
- At a reasonable price
- Provide complete metadata
Questions for booksellers to think about:
How are you building community?
What's unique about your space?
If you have expertise and passion, people will flock to you online.
What are your metrics to gauge success? You shouldn't just ask, "does it lead to sales?" Better to think about educating your customers, building loyalty, and building community. Hopefully those things will lead to more sales and they are good in themselves.
Booksellers can compete in the age of Amazon, Apple, and Google by embracing smallness/independence and providing personal recommendations and service. "We can offer things they can't offer."
The indie bookstore vs. online giant is like the bar vs. the liquor store.