Thursday, March 12, 2009

The New Era of Selling Books

Sixteen years ago, when Tyndale House published my first book, my big concerns included,
  • "Will bookstores order and continue to carry my books?" After all, bookstores can carry only a small portion of this year's new books, and a much, much smaller portion of books published in the past (the backlist).
  • "Will my book go out of print after the first printing?"
What if a publisher had told me, back in 1993, that they could assure me that my book would be ordered by the largest bookstore chain in the world, stocked in every one of their stores, would be reordered continually to make sure it stayed in stock, and would never go out of print?

First of all, I'd laugh at the outrageous claim. Then I'd demand proof. It would be a dream come true!

But isn't that what we have today with From what I read, it's selling more books than any of the other bookstore chains. The book I'm now publishing through BookSurge (a subsidiary of Amazon) is guaranteed to stay in stock through Amazon. Twenty years from now, heck, sixty years from now, it will still be on display at the world's largest bookstore.

The implications to authors are staggering.

But take it one step further. Back in 1993, my only hope for international distribution was to land agreements with distributors in other English-speaking countries, or land publishing contracts with foreign publishers. What if they told me, in 1993, that they could guarantee worldwide availability through a device that allowed anyone to download it immediately and pay via credit cards. Again, I would have laughed at the outrageous claim.

Yet, today, people can order my books globally through Amazon.

I'm simultaneously publishing my book in a Kindle format, making it available to Kindle owners. Yes, Kindle is taking hold. Princeton, Yale, Oxford, and UC Berkeley offer textbooks on Kindle. According to the Boston Herald, a full 10% of Amazon's revenues from book sales are digital sales for Kindles. Impressive.

It's a new era for selling books. Let's take advantage of it!

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