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Book Distribution: Why You Need To Drive Readers Into Bookstores

Book Distribution: Why You Need to Drive Readers into Bookstores

Debbie Young with her books in bookstore with Waterstones brand clearly visible

Debbie Young speaking at Ness Book Fest 2018 in the Inverness, Scotland branch of Waterstones

Most authors – whether self-published or trade-published – dream of seeing their books the shelves of bricks-and-mortar stores. One of the reasons that ALLi recommends all indie authors publish their print books through both Amazon's KDP Print and IngramSpark is that the latter supplies the distributors from whom physical bookstores order. But you need to do more than that to gain significant bookstore sales, as Debbie Young, author of the ALLi Guidebook How to Get Your Self-published Book into Bookstores, explains: you need to drive readers into bookstores to fuel demand.


If you publish your books through IngramSpark, your book data will automatically be sent to book distributors from whom bookstores, both independents and chains, order their stock.

IngramSpark distributes new book data and updates (such as price or cover changes) once a month, and this data then trickles down the chain without the indie author needing to do anything else.

Great news, right? Well, yes and no…

The Good News…

Eventually your book data will appear in bookstore ordering systems and on their websites, drawing on your IngramSpark entry. I brightened the day of several ALLi members recently by sharing with them screenshots of their books on the Waterstones website, some including reviews, that they didn't know about! (Waterstones is the leading chain of bookstores in the UK.) Here's a link to mine, if you want to see one in action.

…and the Bad News

But it doesn't mean your book will appear on the shelves of any physical bookshop, unless the stores decide to order them in – any more than putting your ebook on Amazon or Kobo or anywhere else will guarantee a purchase, unless something that drives someone to order it.

Being on the website does not mean the stores will order them and put them on their shelves – it just means they can.

The indie author's task is to drive readers into bookstores and increase the demand for ordering via those bookstores. If we have confidence in our books, we can hope that once customers go in and order them, staff will see them and think “Hmm, nice book – let's get a few more and put them on the shelves”.

3 Ways to Drive Readers into Bookstores

  • How to Get your self-published book into Bookstores

    Ebook available as free download to ALLi members, and for non-members to buy from all the usual retail channels

    Befriend your local booksellers. Be a good customer at your local shop. If you only ever buy books from Amazon, don't expect your local booksellers to want to help you.

  • When you list your buying links on your books' pages on your website, add a note to tell people they can also order from all good bookshops by going in and quoting the ISBN, title and author. They may still order from Amazon, but plenty of readers prefer to buy in physical stores, so encourage them to use their comfort zone. Plus, if a bookseller looks at your website, you'll score a brownie point for flying the flag for them!
  • Try to hold launch events at your local book stores – and do your best to fill them with customers, to impress the booksellers that you're a popular local author that they really should stock all year round!

These tips will help you drive readers into bookstores. For much more information about effectively working with bricks-and-mortar bookstores, read the guidebook I wrote for ALLi, How to Get Your Self-published Book into Bookstores, available online in paperback and ebook – or to order from your friendly local bookstore, of course! Just quote ISBN 978-1909888494. (You see what I did there?!)

#Indieauthors - want to sell more books through bricks-and-mortar bookstores? @DebbieYoungBN explains some fundamental principles to help you. Click To Tweet

From the ALLi Author Advice Center Archive



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