Monday, August 9, 2010

Will Bookstores Become Things of the Past? Good or Bad News for Self-Publishing Authors?

We just returned from a much needed family vacation. During the course of the trip I managed to read some excellent fiction books that were part of a series and having finished the ones I brought with me, I ventured into a bookstore to purchase the next book in the series.  My wife commented on the fact this was the first book we had purchased from a brick and mortar bookstore we actually physically entered in some time.

After some reflection on her remark I realized she was not only correct, but I could not remember the last time I had purchased a book from a brick and mortar bookstore. This fact made me realize in a personal way as a self-published author just how much the book world has changed and will continue to change.  

When Amazon first went on-line it was not uncommon for readers to search for books on Amazon and then go to their local bookstore to purchase the book.  Now it is a common practice to see a book that looks interesting and to write down the title and upon arrival at home purchase the book, for less than it would have cost in the store, from Amazon.  For those of us who are price conscious, Amazon will even allow us to purchase used books (probably from brick and mortar stores struggling to adapt and survive).

Then along came the eBook. Like many self-publishing authors I have been watching this aspect of the publishing industry with interest. My wife purchased a Nook. She loves it. My daughter reads more from a computer or some type of reading device than she does real paper books. My college aged daughter uses electronic textbooks for some of her classes. Now my wife wants a Kindle.  The eBook is here to stay and will only grow in usage and popularity as the technology improves.

What does this mean for the self-published author? I think the trend, while sad, bodes well for those self-publishing authors who have written solid books, produced them in a professional manner and take the time and effort to properly market their books. Gone is the limiting factor that brick and mortar bookstores did not sell self-published books.

Amazon and the eBook revolution have changed this forever. In fact, self-publishing expert Aaron Shepard has long touted the idea self-publishing authors should not even attempt to sell books in traditional bookstores. Amazon, the internet and the ability for authors to sell directly to readers either via eBooks or a paper copy of a book printed-on-demand has removed the barrier between the author and the reader who wishes to purchase the author's books.

I doubt bookstores will completely fade away, if for no other reason than to sell used books or rare books. But the business model of brick and mortar bookstores will have to change for these stores to survive and that is probably good for self-publishing authors as well.