As you're probably tired of me telling you, we now publish books under the imprint of Piscataqua Press. We've jumped with both feet into what is clearly a brave new world. I spent Wednesday afternoon and evening at a table at the 2012 New England Authors Expo and Book Sale in Danvers, Ma. It was a large ballroom full of rows of little white tables with eager authors, illustrators, printers and publishers. I am now one of them, and boy is the shoe on the other foot.
A few weeks ago I sent an email about our new books to most every bookstore in New England. It should be an easy sell: Snow Island was previously published ten years ago by a national press, it sold well in New England and was a Book Sense pick (meaning it was recommended by Indie bookstores). I got about five responses. Did I take it personally? Goodness, no. My years as a bookseller has given me a bit of insight. At RiverRun, we get at least 50 unsolicited emails a week (and many phone calls) from authors promoting their books. Most get deleted unread, or briefly skimmed-- there's just too much of it. An avalanche of information.
Zeke forwarded me an article the other day about the "dead end" of self publishing. (You can read it here.) Following the article were more than 50 comments ripping the author of the article apart. What I found fascinating was that the comments, for the most part, weren't written by crazy people (try CNN.com for that!!). They were angry perhaps, but well reasoned for the most part, which I take as a sign: self-publishing is no longer done just by people who can't get published by the big houses, but also by people who don't want to be published by the big houses.
One of the comments linked to a list of self-published authors who had sold more than 100,000 ebooks on Amazon. Amazing! Even more amazing was the fact that, as a bookseller of 15 years, I hadn't heard of a single one of them.
There is an entirely new publishing industry growing up beneath the feet of the traditional publishing companies. It is a brilliant, horrific, ever-changing beast that is challenging a two century status quo. I have very mixed feelings about it, because I have a foot in both worlds now. I want to see the major publishers do well, because they have the ability to bring excellent books to a broad swath of people. This helps build social community and shared experience. But they have GOT to figure out how to reinvent themselves for the next 50 years, or they are in trouble.
Everything just changed.
And now it just changed again.
We are your friendly neighborhood bookstore, located in downtown Portsmouth, NH. Small but potent, we offer a fine selection of new books with an emphasis on fiction, history, poetry and mystery. We also have a great little kids section, and hold over 100 events a year.