First of all, this article validates much of the basic philosophy long held by Infinity Publishing which has always believed in the resilience of the nation’s independent bookstores and their ability to stay in business and go toe-to-toe with chain super-stores. The national chains are in bed enjoying sweetheart deals for deeply discounted bestsellers from major houses, whose intent of the super-discounts and making their famous authors available for book signings were clearly to out-price and upstage those nearby indies.
We have always stressed the importance of regional connections by encouraging our authors to schedule events in their local independent bookstores. The owners/managers know the value of community roots and the appeal of introducing a newly published author with books -- autographed for their customers. Niche market books have always sold well through indies, and Infinity offers a dazzling array of niche topics – fully returnable at a 40% discount is a good deal. Plus, we have authors in the store’s backyard poised to do readings.
It’s interesting to note that the chains and major houses who hooked up early on with POD publishing services haven’t done much that’s noticeable in support of the resulting books. Perhaps the universal fault in the business model was their impersonal approach with contracted and over-taxed authors.
By engaging in self-publishing through Infinity, the author retains all rights to the book and Infinity pays monthly royalties on every book sold – we earn our profit selling books to ever expanding niches and discount books to our authors who create and control the content.
The importance of increasing independent bookstore sales, coupled with expanding customer purchases of niche books from small presses and evolving publishers, demonstrates the ability of indies and small regional chains to thrive and profit under the giants’ shadow. They’re doing this by expanding their on-shelf selection of niche books, introducing new flavors of fiction, spreading out romance, and howling over a vast offering of how-to books. We live in fascinating times – and the happenings in our evolving branch of publishing are especially interesting. The content and course of the book in the market place is being returned to the control of the author to decide upon – and not the corporate bean-counters who have counted too long on formulated publishing to produce the over projected profit. Authors who know and care about the content, published by a cost-effective book publishing system, delivered to a customer-aware and author-friendly indie is a winning combination that’s producing increasing sales when the rest of the industry is rather flat.
-John F. Harnish