Monday, July 15, 2013

AiIP: Support Your Local Bookstore (even if you buy digitally)

Last month, I reviewed Planks by S.C. Harrison, and the tagline for the book fits this post- surely we have done more good than we will do evil- fits this post nicely. Before I dig into what I mean by that, let me give you a little background.

If you've been following my musing in this space for any amount of time, you know that I am frequently vexed by- I will try to say this politely- a significant lack of quality from the self-publishing community. This is to say, un- or poorly edited works, cover art that is only art in the loosest sense and generally stories that are just plain bad. I won't rehash my first post here, aside from saying this is due to a lack of traditional gatekeepers (which I have also touched on).

But, on the plus side, there are a lot of fine works out there, including a lot of unique stuff that traditional publishers would be unwilling to take a chance on. This, I feel (and I'm sure you agree), is a good thing. Amazon was the first to really make this a viable option, and certainly remains the mainstay for self-publishers.

This is where the opening quote comes into play- how much good has Amazon done? Obviously ebooks were inevitable- no one will even bother to debate that, not even the most hardened I-only-wanna-read-physical-books traditionalist. But the harm is obvious- indie bookstores are the most glaring case. Many have adapted (I've mentioned my local hangout, Village Books, several times as a case-in-point of a bookstore that has adapted). But Amazon certainly hasn't done them any favors.

Compare that to Kobo (if you're Canadian, you are already rolling your eyes- "catch up, Dean, we've been using them for years"), who really goes out of their way to work, even in a small way, dollar-wise, with indie bookstores. They make themselves much more open and accessible to authors and publishers than Amazon does.

Why does this matter, to you as a reader or even to the authors?  For one thing, I see a lot of authors buying into the Amazon-or-nothing thinking. Amazon has anointed Hugh Howey as the king of self-publishing for his Wool series, including his comments in such places as their GoodReads acquisition press release, wherein he compares Amazon to 'the cool guy next door marrying your mom'. And look at the comments on that post- people follow him because he's Mister Self Publishing Success Story (and good for him). But why at the exclusion of everything else? What possible benefit does that have for the author, the reader or the literary community?

Nook is, for all intents and purposes, dead (and B&N probably not far behind). Kobo is on the rise, and certainly has my support over Amazon at this point. This article is spot-on for authors- why are we even linking to Amazon at all (if you click one link in this post, click that one)? Bookstores provide a lot more value to the community than simply being a place to buy books. They should get the support of authors and readers alike.

Odds & Ends:

 Speaking of the literary community, I did a reading the other day with S.C. Barrus at his Kickstarter launch party. He is funding for his upcoming Steampunk novel, Discovering Aberration. It is equal parts adventure and witty.

Joining us was Zachary Bonelli, who has written a really cool series called Voyage, with some elements of Sliders, what with all manner of alternate Earths. I enjoyed what he read, and am digging into the rest now.

Prime books now has a digital imprint, called Masque Books. E.C. Tobler has her Rings of Anubis series coming out through them, and I am about halfway through the first book, Gold & Glass, and if you enjoy steampunk adventure, you'll like this (I am not really much of a steampunk guy, so don't ask me why it's in here twice now).

I took last week off from blogging, but interviewed both E.C. Tobler and S.C. Barrus on my blog, so if you want to know more about them & their work, head over there.

In conclusion, my own book, 3024AD: Short Stories Series One is $2.99 for the month of July, so if you don't have it yet, now is the time to grab it! It's out for Kindle, Kobo and Nook