Selling Books in the Digital Age
Updated: Mar 21, 2019
By: Danielle Sinon
I stepped into the bookshop and breathed in that perfume of paper and magic that strangely no one had ever thought of bottling.
- CARLOS RUIZ ZAFÓN, “THE ANGEL’S GAME”
Walking into a bookstore is like getting a hug from an old friend. Everything feels familiar and comfortable. The smell of paper, ink and coffee. The sounds of paper rustling and light music playing in the background. The excitement of being surrounded by so many stories. So why are bookstores beginning to crumble around us?
The Decline of the Bookstore
With the birth of Amazon.com in the mid-1990s, buying books had never been easier. Online booksellers like Amazon have made it difficult for small, independent bookstores to stay relevant. Yes, people may love the atmosphere of a small bookstore, but are they willing to pay the price that goes along with it? I know I have been guilty of going into a bookstore and noting books that look interesting, only to go online later to find a lower selling price. It’s sometimes painful to pay $35 for a new hardcover when you know you could get it for half that price online — and with free shipping!
Selling Online Books
With that being said, where does that leave you and your book? Here at Atlantic Publishing we do more work with online sellers than we do with physical bookstores. Over the years, we have built relationships with different sellers who have helped us build our brand and better market our authors. Two of the most well known to consumers are Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. But we work with others who are more specialized and accustomed to working specifically with publishing companies.
Vearsa.com is a great resource when it comes to e-books. We are able to upload our e-book files to Vearsa’s website and they connect to e-book sellers worldwide to distribute our books. It’s that easy! It is important to try and reach as many readers as possible, so distributing your book to more sellers is a way to achieve this. With Vearsa, we are able to upload to iTunes, Kobo, Barnes & Noble Nook, and Google Books, to name a few.
The increasing use of technology in our society over the past few years has led people to read more on their Kindles, iPads, or even just on their phones while they’re on the go. Many readers agree that e-books are more convenient as they are easier to take with you than trying to lug around a 500-page book!
The Importance of Libraries
While sales on these online sites are important for the success of your book, we have learned over time that library sales also play a major role. Our books appeal to libraries because we predominately publish works of non-fiction, books that they want on their shelves. Working with library distributors has helped us to gain relationships with libraries that are very important for the sales of our books.
With the increase in e-book sales, libraries have also had to jump on this popular trend. OverDrive, a borrowing site and app, was created for libraries to allow patrons to borrow e-books and audio books using their library cards. According to their website, OverDrive offers “the industry’s largest catalog of ebooks, audiobooks and other digital media to a growing network of 40,000 libraries and schools in 70 countries.” Due to OverDrive’s expansion and popularity, the company decided to create a brand new app — The Libby app — that is dedicated to making it easy for users to check out books and read wherever they may be. These two apps have changed the way libraries operate, meaning that patrons don’t even have to enter the library to check out books.
While OverDrive is an important resource for library distribution, we also rely on two of the largest book distributors: Baker & Taylor, and Ingram. Partnering with these established companies allows us to distribute our books more widely as they are well-respected names in the world of publishing. An important difference between these distributors and OverDrive is that they work with physical books along with e-resources (e-books and audiobooks).
Libraries are constantly working on trying to stay interesting and relevant. For example, the New York Public Library has a new series on their Instagram profile (https://www.instagram.com/nypl/) known as InstaNovel. Using Instagram stories, the NYPL is able to upload poems, short stories, and relatively short books for followers to enjoy. So far there are classics such as “Alice in Wonderland,” Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven,” and “A Christmas Carol.”
So What’s Next?
The world of books is constantly changing around us as new forms of technology emerge. So who knows how we’ll be reading books in 50 years. Maybe we’ll all be wearing special reading glasses that both project the stories and help with our eyesight. Or maybe we’ll be able to read books underwater! The possibilities are endless. But no matter what happens, books will still exist in some form or another. We want you to succeed just as much as you do, so it’s our job to get your book out into the world. While physical bookstores are on the decline, the digital world of bookstores is thriving and just waiting for a new addition to its shelf.