The Indie Bookstore: Thoughts from #RustCity16 & Ideas for #RustCity17

bookstoreThank you to everyone who has been filling out the Event Feedback form. You’ve given me a lot to think about and a lot of great ideas have already started to swirl.

There is one thing I’m seeing that I would like to get more feedback on, especially from the authors – the Indie Bookstore.

Sadly, if BAM couldn’t order an authors’ books, they weren’t going to sell them; and there was not any special exceptions I could get. They do not do commission sales either, so an author couldn’t bring their books and have BAM sell them in their space. So I was left with either not having the vast majority of the #RustCity16 authors the opportunity of having their books out all weekend, or putting together something myself.

I really wanted to ensure that everyone had a chance to make a sale; and I know from my own experience, that being able to get a book when I want/discover it has a higher chance of being a sale versus having to wait until the book signing to get it. Doing the indie bookstore seemed like the best way to do it, but there were a lot of factors that left me indecisive about implementing it.

It was just weeks before Rust City took place that I finally decided todo it. The volunteers pretty much pants’d it with just an idea of what I wanted; and for the most part, the consensus is they did a fantastic job.  So I definitely want to bring it back again, and we are already working on improvements for next year.

However, the one comment I have received is that some did not like having 2 bookstores present – the Indie and BAM.

I get this. Readers want to be able to get all their books in one place. However this all goes back to the ordering issue – either all authors have books available or only a certain few. There was one big difference between the two though. Proceeds from the BAM sales did go towards the charity, but none of the Indie Bookstore sales did. I didn’t ask the authors for a commission on their sales or to donate any of their proceeds to the charity. So this was another way the con was able to raise money for Child’s Play.

The problem I’m now facing is what do I do? Do I simply say the dual options will always be there? Get rid of the indie bookstore and simply rely on a bookseller? Or go strictly indie and do the whole shebang myself?

I love the idea of the indie bookstore, and would like to continue it; but to take on the task of being the only bookseller at the con would add a whole level of planning, and would require a lot more of the authors.

For one, Rust City does not have the means to order all of the authors books and have them available. This means that each author, whether they are traditionally published or not, would have to bring their own books to the event. For the local authors, this should not be too much of an issue; for an author who has to fly in, bringing books on a plane sucks (ugh! weight limits), so it becomes an issue.

Additionally, with the bookseller no longer being present (and having a portion of their proceeds go towards our charity), do I now ask the authors to donate a certain percentage of their proceeds (a commission if you will)? Do I charge them a flat fee to include their books, individually or all inclusive?

The indie bookstore is going to happen next year – I love the idea too much not to bring it back – and the volunteers and I are already working on making it better. The real question is – do I bring back a bookseller?

A lot of this has been me talking through my thoughts, but Rome wasn’t built in a day nor was it done by a single person. I’m very much behind the idea of “it takes a village”, so I want to throw this out there – what do you guys think?

Authors: would you be opposed to having to bring your own books? Being charged either a flat fee or a commission as a donation to the charity? If there is a charge, whether it’s a fee or a percentage, what would be a good number? Would that deter you from attending Rust City in the future?

Readers: is the idea of having two bookstores really that bad? Did it turn you off from purchasing a book from a newly discovered author because it could not be found in one place?

Is there anything I haven’t considered? Am I missing a vital piece of information that would mute this entire issue?