Of Authors And Indie Bookstores

So, the other day, I locked Rebecca Schinsky in a meat freezer in Dover, Delaware so I could steal her role as co-host for the Bookriot podcast this week.

(That would be podcast Numero Ocho on this list.)

During this lovely podcast, where I only accidentally dropped the f-bomb once (eep oops sorry), we discussed this Bookseller piece: “Anger Over Authors’ Links To Amazon.” This article has a UK spin but the idea here is pretty universal: bookstores are saying, “Hey, authors and publishers, you say you care so much about us and how vital we are, it’d be really sweet if you linked to us on your author pages and if you don’t you’re a stinky poo-poo diaper face.”

I may have ad-libbed that a little bit.

I spoke about it on Twitter last week and it generated some interesting (if confusing) agita from authors specifically about how they don’t have a favorite indie bookstore near them and who should they even link to and goddamnit I’m not taking away my Amazon links.

The money shot from the article seems to be:

“The reason he has not linked to one through his website is because unfortunately, he doesn’t have an independent bookseller where he lives, otherwise he would link to it,” she said.

First comment: hello, myopic. Do you assume that all your readers live where you live?

Second comment: hey, I get it. Lotta bookstores out there. Indie bookstores aren’t as proliferate as they once were, but let’s assume there are still “a lot” of them out there.

You don’t have to link to them all.

You just have to link to Indiebound:

http://www.indiebound.org

Or, if you’re one of those UK across-the-ponders, Hive:

http://www.hive.co.uk

Nobody is asking you to stop linking to Amazon. (Well, okay, some indies have an understandable hate-boner for Amazon, and they would probably be happy if you pulled Amazon links — I mean, we’re talking full-bore Snoopy Dance here.) By the black gods of Greyskull, do not pull your Amazon links. For better or for worse that’s how people want their books and if you delete those links you’re going to be leaving money on the table.

But! But but but, don’t leave off the indie link, either. Indie bookstores are vital. The best of them connect authors and readers and foster a book-lover’s community in a way that Amazon never can and never will. They can compete with Amazon on a level that Amazon will never understand — like insurgent freedom fighters pushing back a militarily-superior enemy. Indie bookstores will handsell the holy hell out of your books. They are active agents promoting things they love and authors they dig — they are not the passive Amazon recommendation engine. They’re people! Who love books! Maybe your books! How is that a bad thing?

So: link to Indiebound, will ya? And if you have a favorite indie bookstore, link to them, too. (Even better: foster with them a relationship where you can provide  a value-add for readers via that store. Say, a buttload of signed books only available through Said Favorite Indie?)

Now, a caveat: I’m not saying indie bookstores are awesome by dint of them being indie bookstores. I’ve heard tale of some real asshats amongst the indie bookstore world, and have encountered more than a few myself. I’ve been treated like a real douchesponge by a few indie stores. And I’ve heard some horror stories among other writers that their signings at indies got them no support and the booksellers were in fact a little hostile. This is why you gotta love stores like Mysterious Galaxy, or one of my own local stores, the Doylestown Bookshop. (Both of whom pulled out the stops when it came to my author events there and who were friendly and accommodating and brimming with sheer liquid awesome.) Hell, did you see the Wendig Wall of Wicked Wonderfulness at Riverrun Bookstore in Portsmouth, NH?!

Great bookstores are critical curators and know to embrace authors — you know, those pesky assholes who write all these silly books.

So now I ask:

Who are your favorite bookstores?

Where are they?

Why do you love ’em?

Scream it out loud.