Indie Booksellers and the Digital Transition: Slides and Recap

DBW Webcastsby Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Director of Audience Development, Digital Book World

Yesterday’s webinar, Indie Booksellers and the Digital Transition: Opportunity Knocks?, was an enlightening conversation that covered a number of timely topics — from bundling print and eBooks to bookstores as a “third place” — and attempted to answer the ultimate question: how can publishers be better partners?

Debbie Stier, SVP/Associate Publisher for HarperStudio and Director of Digital Marketing for HarperCollins moderated a lively conversation with a panel of veteran independent booksellers: Stephanie Anderson, WORD (Brooklyn), Patrick Brown, Vroman’s (Pasadena, CA), and Bridget Warren, Vertigo Books (College Park, MD).

The slides from the presentation have been made available via Slideshare, but they only give a hint of the great conversation that took place; DBW members can view the entire archived presentation, with audio, here.

[slideshare id=2687653&doc=dbw-booksellers-091209225036-phpapp02]

Among the topics addressed was Clay Shirky’s idea of bookstores as social hubs, wherein he proposed “turning some customers into members, patrons, donors”, aka the NPR model. Brown’s response was succinct:

“Clay’s piece was interesting as a sort of think piece on theoretical bookstores of the future. I don’t really think that it’s all that feasible to implement many of his ideas for a bookstore that’s on the ground right now…

That tends to be how a lot of people go about it. They’re like, ‘Well, if I had a bookstore, this is how I would do it.’ But you don’t have a bookstore right now.”

Shelf Awareness has a great recap of the session, including some answers to “What can publishers do to help indies?”

Warren suggested, “Integrate sales so the reps we know and trust sell e-books. Publishers need to make sure their reps are comfortable selling e-books, and ease pricing disparity for indies.” Anderson wished for “Better communication, more openness, more back and forth. We have the same goal: we want people to buy good books.” Brown said, “Publishers [need to] recognize how important we are to the ecosystem. Shelf space is advertising space.”

Some of the highlights from our attendees via Twitter:

Kirtim reason harper studio doesn’t bundle? no major retailer does it #dbw is this the opportunity for indies?

DigiBookWorld “The bundle sounds easy, yet no one seems to be able to make a shopping cart that bundles a physical and digital product.” @debbiestier #dbw

DonLinn OR Books had a bundle of digital and print for GOING ROUGE. Sold only a couple of hundred copies. #dbw

KatherineBoG I’ve had ppl express interest in having hard copy of book + e-version. Unfortunately all who’ve said that to me are kindle owners. #dbw

katerados #dbw – interesting correlation b/w apple’s itunes dynamic pricing and ebook pricing. Get the early adopters at premium price?

changinghands #dbw Yes, online e-book purchases will be the norm. Our job to encourage customers to buy digital from indies. Price disadvantage crippling.

WendyHudson #dbw Does anyone here use Symtio cards in their stores?

Kirtim I would think Symtio cards would help towards a bundle idea -maybe just a barcode on the p-book? #dbw

changinghands #dbw Why is public expectation for e-books set at $9.99? Jeff Bezos decided for all of us. Fellow travelers who link to Amazon complicit.

thebookjournal #dbw so seeing as we can’t sell Kindle format ebooks, do we really stand a chance?

Kirtim interesting how convo for #dbw is no longer about content but about bundle and pricing. Seems a huge advance from a couple years ago.

WendyHudson #dbw I want a POD machine as soon as it’s feasible, but $, size, and staffing are big issues.

bookateur #dbw Espresso can be leased vs. outright buy.

emmittc was told by andrew pate with ondemand books (espresso) in october that they are “not currently leasing”…..#dbw

Kirtim Titles in Hamilton, Canada and University of Alberta have espresso and rave #dbw/news/7079.html#dbw

KSchechner More on indies using the Espresso Book Machine: http://news.bookweb.org

KatherineBoG Interesting: @bookavore’s argument that indies must make ebooks a local experience vs Sherman Alexie last week that it’s impossible. #dbw

ca_gordon Mobile devices allow people to bring the internet & social networks with them to stores with a physical inventory. via @vromans #dbw

KatherineBoG “use mobile technology to take advantage of our physical space” ex. foursquare. @vromans #dbw

KatherineBoG “Social media is a way to remind people of how wonderful it is to actually be in the store” @bookavore #dbw

DigiBookWorld “We have to focus on the things we can do that software can’t.” Patrick from @Vromans #dbw

changinghands #dbw Disagree with Patrick. Doing the things software can’t and incorporating the new not mutually exclusive. Do both.

7 thoughts on “Indie Booksellers and the Digital Transition: Slides and Recap

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    NOTE: I (Guy) just spoke to Matt from On-Demand Books about a leasing option for the Espresso, and he said that it’s an option in a very rare instances. For the majority of booksellers, purchasing the equipment is the only option.

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