Recently, I read this headline in the NY Times: “Small Bookstores Gain as Barnes & Noble has Mixed Results.” I was happy for small bookstores, but the news didn’t exactly surprise me; it made me wonder if my experience with B&N might be one reason why they’re getting mixed results.
I’m a small press author and I know many indie authors who just skip doing business with Barnes & Noble because the process is so difficult. Unlike Amazon, getting started with B&N had been about as easy as requesting a private audience with the president. It took months, but I finally heard from a buyer, who ordered my books and made herself available for questions. Ultimately, she also corrected the online price.
But then it happened again. I was scheduled to have an October event in one of the NYC B&N bookstores, but a month before the date, the manager emailed me in a panic when she noticed the online price was $127. I suggested she just, like, you know, fix it. She didn’t know how. Really?! Again I contacted the buyer who changed the price.
The bad news for B&N is that in the weeks preceding my event, I noticed an uptick in sales on Amazon. Online sales that should have gone to B&N, likely went to their competitor.
The number of books I sell with these giant companies is not going to make a big difference to them, but I’m one of thousands. More to the point is that if B&N was more user friendly to authors and had a less convoluted way of doing business, their bottom line might not be mixed.