Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Guest Post by Ruth Jordan

Crimespree Magazine is a longtime friend of this author, and the writing community in general.

Jon and Ruth Jordan, who run the mag, are two of the nicest people you could ever meet, and they've done a great deal for countless writers.

Here's a guest post by Ruth, seeking to turn a tragedy (over 200 Borders stores closing) into an opportunity:

Do You Have A Local?

by Ruth Jordan

This blog post is dedicated to all of the wonderful folk who feed my addiction for books in the most personal of ways. Sometimes it's nice to walk through the door and have everyone know your name. More importantly, it is astounding to think that I can go to 40 different cities in this country, roll up to the counter and the Bookkeeper is gonna be able to put my book of choice in my hand. This number would be even higher if I was better traveled.

This past weekend Crimespree flew to Minneapolis for Writes of Spring, an annual event held at ONCE UPON A CRIME. How heartening it is to see Authors rally around their local book store. Even better? Seeing the folks coming out to buy books. It warmed my heart to see that all that booky energy.

The last four times I've been to my own local, MYSTERY ONE BOOKS in Milwaukee the crowd has also been good. It's worth mentioning that on Super Bowl Sunday .. in Wisconsin, Robert Crais had an audience of 70 people. Not bad at all.

Have I lost you? Are you thinking there goes Ruth with her Rose Colored glasses? If you're still here I have an idea... a crazy, silly & wonderful idea. All I need is a little help from my friends. All I need is a little help from the people I haven't met yet but stumble across this blog. All I need is a commitment.

Do you remember the rush when you stumbled across that perfect book? Do you recall a cover calling to you, the flap copy adding to the harmony, and possibly a blurb that sealed the deal? When you read that book it was yours. The book belonged to you and was yours to talk about, share, put into other folks hands. It was the discovery that made it special.

For most fiction readers that feeling I just described along with print reviews is the way they find these treasures, for now. The casual reader likes to walk into a store and find the book that's going to get them through that chilly weekend or long plane ride.

Summer is coming and with it the beach & vacations. An outlet is gone for those who are part time readers to get their fix. The closing of Borders presents any number of problems to everyone with any conscious awareness of the Publishing Industry. Last year the box store accounted for 13% of all book sales.

There's an opportunity here. Last year Indy stores accounted for only 2% of Sales. Let's change that this year. Let's Make it 8%.

That co-worker who asks you what to read? The friend who asks you what you think they might like? Surely all of us can find two people to walk into an independent bookstore of our choice who've never been to one before.

That's it. That's my plan. If all of us do this we can help the Indy dealers who lay the footprint for the best sellers of tomorrow. These smaller stores may not have as many end caps or focal points as a Borders but they are full of reading goodness and staff who knows how to put the right book into the customer's hand.

There will be hard choices for writers, publishers, distributors and the consumer in the months ahead. But for the now, let's gift our family, friends and acquaintances with a choice they never knew they had. The Indy Book Store.

This idea is so simple I bet Joe Konrath has time to play and a desire to help.

Joe sez: I've always loved, and supported, bookstores. I've visited and signed at over 1200 of them, over the last eight years. I've thanked thousands of booksellers in my novel acknowledgments. Even though I've embraced digital, I still buy print, and I have over 5000 print books in my personal library.

What Ruth is asking here is simple. We all love bookstores, and unfortunately a lot of them are closing. But maybe those indy bookstores can take up that slack.

So visit your local indy, and tell two friends about it. Or bring those friends with you the next time you go. And if a bookstore has closed in your area, seek out another one.

And also, if you're a mystery, thriller, or comic book writer, subscribe to Crimespree. It's the best mag in the business.


Anonymous said...

That's a great idea. It fits right in with anyone who likes to support local small businesses.

Fran Friel said...

Excellent idea, Ruth. I'm in!

Rob Flumignan said...

Since I now live out in the boonies, I don't have ANY bookstores within 30 miles--indy or otherwise. The Waldenbooks in the mall closed a couple years ago and left us with nothing. But maybe I can get some folks over to Aunt Agatha's in Ann Arbor.

Megg Jensen said...

I am so lucky! We have the best indie bookstore in the least according to Publisher's Weekly. Anderson's Bookshop (Naperville & Downers Grove) is amazing!!!

I'm also lucky I used to work at an indie for three years - Drummer & Thumbs in Arlington Heights (ever been there, Joe?). It closed in 2002, but it's still my favorite bookstore ever.

I'm definitely getting too wordy here, but when the hubby & I eloped on Cape Cod, we went spent one day driving all over the Cape visiting the indie bookstores. *Heaven!*

Megg Jensen

Jimmie Hammel said...

Is there a search guide for indy stores? I would love to find one in my area.

Sean said...

The Borders here in Des Moines, Iowa just joined the dreaded list and will be closing next month. Fortunately, our indie bookstores are always busy and will - hopefully - become even busier. I'm going to get my brother to finally visit one this weekend. I'll have to disguise it as a Hooters first, but I think he'll really be impressed once he gets inside.

Steven said...

I don't live near an indy, but when I'm in New York I hit Partners and Crime.

Not to nitpick, but... It's Crimespree we should subscribe to. Good link, bad tag. Crimespree and the Jordan clan are awesome.

Robert Bidinotto said...

Partners & Crime in NYC, near the Village, is a fantastic store for thriller and mystery fans. Anyone nearby should make a regular pilgrimage.

Andy Hough said...

That is a good idea. I didn't think there were any independent book stores in my city. A quick Google search revealed this list of independent alternatives to Borders stores. It showed there is one indy in town which I will be sure to check out.

Michael said...

Time to go hunting for bookstores!

Mark said...

Good idea and I hope the indies survive but they will have to survive without me. I have over 1000 paper books and I really don't want any more.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to give a shout out to Powell's in Portland Oregon even though I don't live there any more. I sure do miss spending a Saturday afternoon there! If you're in the area it's worth the trip as they'll have lots of stuff that hasn't even been converted to digital yet. Plus, the place is just an experience.

The last time I ordered DTBs on Amazon one of them came from an independent in my current area so I'll start going there instead of the B&N I usually visit and make the effort to go there instead of ordering via Amazon. It's an easy thing to do.

This is a great idea!

Bjorn Karger said...

Love supporting the locals; great places for readings which often have free food & beverages. Also great in winter - they tend to be warm.

In the pre-ebook days I always sold leaflets, booklets and my self-published books at the locals. In Seattle they were plentiful. But now that I've gone digital, I admit I haven't spent enough time in any (for selling; I still always attend readings).

Come to think of it when I published The Underground Guide To Living Frugal as an ebook, I had zero local advertising. This was just a few months ago; my book was #1 in the Budgeting category for the entire month of March, and according to my April reports I'm already selling double what I did three weeks ago.

I'd like to make a win-win idea to support locals: maybe flyers for my ebooks in exchange for mentions inside the books themselves? Local bookstores and ebooks don't have to be incompatible, do they?

Megg Jensen said...

Jimmie -

The best place to start finding a local indie is Indie Bound

Megg Jensen

Darlene Underdahl said...

Wonderful idea. I've still got a few bucks on the gift card (Sundance Bookstore - Reno, Nv) that I received from a friend for babysitting her cats!

L. David Hesler said...

This is such a great idea. Our own Borders store is going out of business and the sight of all those "closing" signs makes my stomach twist each time I drive by.

I'll seek out the nearest indie book store... and I'll spread the word.

Christopher Wills said...

If any of you are in the UK this year you must go to Ross on Wye. It's a small town and has 41 (yes forty one) second hand book shops. I believe it's the highest concentration in the World. It's how I imagine heaven is like if there is one. I don't know how long they will last though.

Paul McMurray said...

Book World in Janesville WI. Joe, I think you were there. The cow still stands.

Darren Kirby said...

This is a noble task, and one that I do very seldom. Which is sad, considering that there are 2 or 3 indie bookstores around the area I live. I vow to frequent them more, and to spread the word to everyone I know. Thanks, Ruth, for the challenge!

Northwoods Words of (Fiction) Wisdom

Coolkayaker1 said...

Joe – Congratulations on Newbie’s Guide being selected as one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers in the May/June 2011 issue of The Writer’s Digest.

Joshua J. Perkey said...

Excellent idea. I'll link to this on my blog, too, and hope those Indie stores, like Indie authors, can stick around for a while.

Mike said...

Not to be that guy but... "tragedy"?

Book shops closing is sad, both for buyers and especially the people working there but its far from a tragedy.

Anonymous said...

Great news about Once Upon a Crime

Anna Murray

Coral Russell said...

My Indie bookstore is closing after umpteen years in the biz. I'm hoping to make it in one last time to see if they've every thought about selling on Amazon.

I've switched to eBooks, so I was turning a lot of my pBooks in. :(

kathie said...

If you're near Pittsburgh, Mystery Lovers in Oakmont is fantastic. Everyone who works there knows their stuff and you can order from them from anywhere. They are so good to authors and readers alike...lucky to have it right in my own town!

Kathie said...

If you're near Pittsburgh, Mystery Lovers in Oakmont is fantastic. Everyone who works there knows their stuff and you can order from them from anywhere. They are so good to authors and readers alike...lucky to have it right in my own town!

Duane Spurlock said...

When I first moved to Louisville, there were two independent stores: Hawley-Cooke and Carmichaels. I worked for H-C three years. A few years back, H-C sold its two stores to Borders. Borders kept those two and opened two more. Carmichaels had two stores by then, and still does.

Meanwhile, Borders is closing three (so far) of its stores. The remaining one (yet) is one of the original H-C locations.

I like your Indie Bookseller idea.