Book World, the nation’s fourth largest bookstore chain, announced yesterday that it is closing all 45 of its stores. There’s an important lesson here for authors, particular indie authors who are self-publishing their books.
Trying to get your independently published book into bookstores may not be the best use of your time and resources. Despite some softening in book store’, particularly independent bookstores, policy of not carrying self-published books, getting bookstore shelf space remains a difficult and time consuming process. Is it worth the effort? Part of the answer lies in understanding the trends shaping the selling of books.
Book World Senior Vice President Mark Dupont explained, "The national shift in the retail marketplace towards e-commerce has triggered the loss of vital mall anchor stores and a downward spiral in customer counts at Book World stores, reducing sales to a level that will no longer sustain business operations."
Numbers tell us a lot about that shift. Statistica.com reports that the sales of bookstores in the U.S. have declined 38.4% since 2010. The reason is simple. As the Pittsburg Post-Gazette reports 55% of all the trade books (traditionally published for the general public) purchased in the U.S. in 2016 were Amazon sales. According to the Author Earnings’, February 2017 Big, Bad, Wide & International Report 42% of all books sold in the U.S. are ebooks with 80% sold by Amazon, 10% by Apple iBooks, 3% by Barnes & Noble Nook, less than 3% by Google Play, and 2% by Kobo.
In light of these trends which only seem likely to accelerate, indie authors seeking to maximize their potential sales are more likely to succeed by focusing on building their online sales.