Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Will You Pay Just To Be In The Same Room With An Author?

Too bad Come Meet the Author, but Open Your Wallet appeared in The New York Times the Tuesday before Save Bookstores! Day. It deals with the issue of bookstores charging patrons to see authors making appearances, something that's a bit of a turn-off for some. It's a method of generating income for struggling bookstores, but authors and publishers aren't one hundred percent enthusiastic about it.

From an author's point-of-view, an appearance isn't just about selling one particular book at one particular moment, which is, of course, what the bookstore needs to do. For authors, an appearance is also about creating name recognition with the public and promoting an entire career. The hope is that people who don't buy a book at that particular appearance, may ask for it as a gift, purchase it in a paperback edition later on, or buy a future book because they remember your name, which got them to lift the new title off a shelf and read what it was about. None of that can happen if people don't come into the store to meet us because they couldn't or wouldn't pay an admission charge.

R.J. Julia Booksellers, which is mentioned in the article, is here in Connecticut and has been doing this for some time, which I was certainly aware of because they promote their events in the press. They get big name authors, and the store's system of charging a fee, which can be used toward purchasing the book, appears to be working for them.

Bank Square Books, also in Connecticut, has a model I like, though I've yet to take advantage of it. They charge even more for some of their events ($25 vs. $10, which is the figure I usually see), but that includes lunch with the author and a copy of the book. I don't know what lunch involves, but that price still seems as if the store can't be making a lot. I wish I'd been able to go when they had Susan Cheever in.

If you live anywhere near Mystic, Connecticut, it would be worth your time to get onto Bank Square Books e-mail list. Or the store also has a Facebook page.

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