#FutureChat recap: Applauding gaps in 'retail stonewalling'

#FutureChat recap: Applauding gaps in 'retail stonewalling'

What might have been an hour or so of complaint and commiseration became -- in the tweeting hands of The FutureBook community -- something more hopeful and more nuanced. Our topic, 'Retail stonewalling' and Amazon sightings in bookstores, took its phrase from Amazon Publishing author Tim Ferriss. And its starting point was The Bookseller reports of Sarah Shaffi on the stocking by some independent and chain bookstores in the UK of local authors' Amazon Publishing books. In general, of course, this has been unusual. As with the chain Barnes & Noble in the states, which announced its decision to decline to carry Amazon Publishing books, it has been not been uncommon for independent stores to follow suit. Robust statements of displeasure with the retailer have been heard at times, as well, and not always related to Amazon Publishing, as when a petition delivered in April 2013 to No. 10 Downing Street was part of a bookseller-led call for Amazon (as a retailer) to pay more UK corporation tax. During our #FutureChat, it was noted that Amazon retail and Amazon Publishing are distinct entities. The Amazon Publishing family of imprints, expected to bring more than 500 titles to the UK market this year, operates as a traditional publisher. Nevertheless, it has been a happy surprise for some authors to discover their titles from Amazon Publishing in local stores. All three of the authors Shaffi had cited in her story joined us: And there were some we hadn't heard abut yet:   Not so happy are all the stories, however, of course. From our good colleague and friend in Los Angeles, James Scott Bell: And Pennsylvania-based author Chuck Wendig reports a variety of experiences with stores. Mystery writer Melinda Primrose pointed out that merchants have every right to determine how they stock their stores. And Yawar Khan noted that it's not always the Amazon connection that motivates decision not to stock something on the shelves of a bookstore: Bell made it clear, however, that the trend -- as checkered with exceptions as it appears it may be -- creates hardships for writers: London-based author Roz Morris turned the tables in the discussion this way: Matt Cavnar of Vook in New York raised the $64,000 question, especially in regards to the case of Tim Ferriss, who created a campaign online with Bit Torrent -- said to have sold many books -- to counter the Barnes and Noble blackball of Amazon Publishing indoor sales. London's Ricardo Fayet of Reedsy -- which has a launch on Tuesday (2nd September), by the way -- spoke to the general principle of basic retail: And Michigan's Camille LaGuire was right behind him: The dynamic during this #FutureChat was interesting, the topic catching a lot of eyes as we continued: There was an upbeat report from Ontario's Carla Douglas: That caught the eye of Vancouver-based independent author Lorna Suzuki: Author Abby Quillen in Eugene, Oregon, worried aloud (in the tweeterie, that is) that some attitudes need to change before self-publishing work is widely accepted in some areas: David Neal made the point that his reading has become so e- that he's had little need to visit bookstores -- not what bookshops need to hear, of course, but a reality for many. London's Tim Lewis at Stoneham Press had a comparison: Fayet's associate Dave McLeod at Reedsy concurred: An independent publisher spoke up: I asked author Mark Edwards if he'd heard of any bookstores who carry his work taking any backlash or criticism for it: And Wendig, in fact, wanted to emphasise that the response from merchante, in his experience, has been primarily positive: We spent some time talking about the super-fast POD capabilities of the Espresso Book Machine (which makes no coffee, much to my disappointment): From the Bronx, Todd Dillard joined us to agree: London's Jonathan Ruppin at Foyles is less impressed with the Espresso: Dillard in the Bronx had a point to make about the returns aspect of standard print-book store procedure: Douglas, who is an editor, also pointed out that the Amazon Publishing imprints have gained respect from some in the industry. (The name is frequently abbreviated "APub," and many of us used #APub during #FutureChat to save space in tweets.) And a sterling author's endorsement for APub arrived from California as Catherine Ryan Hyde joined us: In terms of our primary focus, APub author Mark Edwards -- who's stocked by some shops, remember -- had a point of practicality to put onto the table: From New York, BiblioCrunch's Miral Sattar chimed in on the logic point: Suzuki in Vancouver mentioned the potential connection of brick-and-mortar stores with ebooks in the Enthrill programme -- also based in Canada (Calgary, Alberta). Enthrill Books creates ebook cards that are put onto display racks in bookstores. The customer buys a card, and uses its code to download the ebook. (I covered this programme last year at Frankfurt Book Fair.) Meanwhile, Montana author Carol Buchanan had no time for anyone's banning of books: Author Smith noted that she knows of no formally engineered action in the UK against Amazon Publishing or other books in bookshop settings: Des Moines-based author Kellye Crocker (moving to Denver -- she seems to favor cities that start with a D) noted, though, that even without intentional blackballing, bookshops continue to battle online retailers' "endless inventory" capability: Quillen, in Oregon, is quite concerned about the difficulty she sees some writers have in her area in getting into stores: I understood Tim Lewis here to be referring to the problem some bookshops see of needing to deal with multiple self-published authors, as opposed to distributors: Neal of Colorado and New Zealand was ready to take things forward: Denver-bound Crocker is looking forward to being near one bookstore in her new town: And before we were done, we'd also invoked Allen Lane and the "Penguincubator" and other vending machines, and -- yes -- drones. It was a lively and wide-ranging discussion, the gist of which seemed to be solid appreciation for bookshops that carry their local authors' Amazon Publishing-produced books -- and the hope that this becomes the rule, not the exception: And the only thing I'd like to have seen is some booksellers joining us, friendly crowd that The FutureBook community is. Happy to hear from them if they'd like to speak up. Thanks to all who did join us. Our next chat is Friday, do come along.
Join us each Friday for a #FutureChat session with The Bookseller’s FutureBook community. We’ll be live on Twitter, at 4 p.m. London time, 11 a.m. New York time, 8 a.m. Los Angeles, 5 p.m. Berlin, 3 p.m. GMT. FutureBook Innovation AwardsThe entry period for the 2014 Bookseller The FutureBook Innovation Awards (#FBIA2014) ends 12th September - hurry if you'd like to nominate a company or person in our annual celebration, this year with nine award categories. Sponsorship by Frankfurt Book Fair and ePubDirect.   The FutureBook basicRegistration now is open for The FutureBook Conference 2014 -- 14th November at Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster. (#FutureBook14)   The Bookseller Children's Conference 2014Seats are still available for The Bookseller Children's Conference, 25th September at Southbank Centre. (#kidsconf14)
Main image - Shutterstock: Stephanie Stevens