The New York Times yesterday came out with an article on how necessary it is to save Barnes & Noble, the original local bookstore killer. Remember, this is the company that made your local bookstore go out of business in the 90s. The company launched a number of failed initiatives to compete with Amazon over the last decade, and have pushed their bookstore out of its primary business to try to focus on toys, games, and the like but providing a more upscale environment than another failing chain, Toys R Us.
As such, their book space shrank, and also became homogenized. You won’t see much variation from one B&N to the next. It’s faking giving that nostalgic bookstore experience you used to have when you went with your parents as a kid, discovered new authors, found out about random SF/F authors because of the stealth preferences of some of the employees there and what they stocked. No, you’ll get the same Scalzi book, the same five copies of Ender’s Game, the same full shelf of Lord Of The Rings when you go to a Barnes and Noble.
So what is there to save? It’s providing books more expensively than amazon, with a worse selection. In fact, it’s the only thing keeping traditional publishing from completely caving. The book buying/selling system that is outdated and hasn’t changed since the 1930s is all B&N is promoting. You must get an agent who takes a percentage, who goes to a publisher who then takes a majority of a percentage, who marks up to a distributor who takes a percentage, who then is at the whim of a book buyer who only buys select books and cuts out most of the midlist without some arm twisting.
This system is the only thing holding indie back from being 100% dominant in the field. We can produce faster, we can produce better, we can produce less expensively. Once B&N is down, Amazon equalizes all of us, and we don’t have to compete with the shelf displays from the bloated system. It means we’ll be completely free, the market will decide. And you can bet that the $10.99 ebooks from big publishers are going to lose to $3.99 indie books every time because price point matters. The publishing industry can’t sustain itself without the big margins because of the middlemen. It will destroy gatekeeping completely and books will once again become the realm of ideas.
The New York Times fears this because it is the system. Their bestseller list is about manipulating this system for big publishing. They’re tied in with other New York publishers. They are representing them in their columns and promotions. They’re not looking out for author’s best interests. ‘
Good riddance, Barnes & Noble. You are the last vestige of a dead system and it’s time to embrace change.
If you are interested in indie books at reasonable prices, check out my new space opera, The Stars Entwined. It’s on Kindle Unlimited and $4.99, great value compared to its traditional published peers and a better story too. Check it out here.