As I work through finishing the main draft of my next book, Mental Illness Sucks! (But It’s Not The End Of The World…), which will be released later this year, I find myself juggling the many competing tasks that accompany being both an author and an independent publisher.
At the moment, I’m creating a launch plan with a greater focus on getting physical copies of my book into as many bookstores as possible and, since I’m proud to be publishing independently (all of my books have been published under my own independent label, Turntable Communications), I’ve decided to focus my initial efforts to have bookstores carry my book on independent booksellers, and I have to say that I have been completely inspired by some of the amazing stores (and their stories) that I’ve discovered.
Finding independent booksellers involves a fair bit of research and can be a bit of a ‘needle in a haystack’ endeavour; all too often, just when you think you’ve found the details for one, you discover that it has closed down, yet another victim of the online shopping revolution. But every now and then, you stumble across the website for an independent bookseller which has not only survived but thrived in spite of everything that’s been thrown at the industry over the past few years/decades.
I absolutely love a good bookstore, and the independent ones tend to have a heart and soul that just isn’t present at the big chain retailers (well, what’s left of them). Unfortunately there isn’t a bookstore in the small town I live in and I have to say that I really miss it. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve embraced the digital revolution – I have a very healthy collection of eBooks in both my iBooks and Kindle libraries – but there is something about a bookstore, and indeed the printed word itself, which will (hopefully) never go out of style for book lovers like me.
What has struck me most as I’ve been researching independent bookstores is just how passionate the successful sellers that remain are. I’ve read some absolutely amazing stories about booksellers around the world who are bucking the trend towards digital and instead are creating spaces where people can come together and connect with both a wide range of stories and one another. Forget about just wanting to have my book carried there; I’m so inspired that I want to visit many of these places! Hopefully, some day soon, I will have the chance to check out these inspiring stores for myself.
In an age where big companies tend to dominate much of our lives, isn’t it nice to know that there are still alternatives? At some point we really do have to ask ourselves if saving a couple of dollars is more important than supporting small businesses, which create local jobs and allow you to know exactly where your money is going. I’m not anti-corporation and I’m certainly not advocating that we all boycott big business; I’m simply saying that we should think carefully about where and how we’re spending our money, and consider supporting independent businesses more often. Many independent businesses are welcoming, passionate and inspiring and personally those are the sorts of businesses who I want to give my money.
I don’t know about you, but I hope that future generations are able to experience the joy of walking into an independent bookshop and browsing through a truly-thoughtful selection of books, and I hope that authors like me can continue to find an avenue for their voices to be heard.
Long live the independent!