Some of the reviews submitted this week on Edelweiss+ from your fellow SIBA booksellers. SIBA members earn B3! points for every review if they join the SIBA community on Edelweiss. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to be added.
9781496441539A Long Time Coming 1/7/2020
"Great character development and a compelling narrative. I think this will make a good book club pick for its family dynamics and themes of family secrets, infidelity, and end-of-life issues. Despite all of its heavy themes, it's a joy to read. Granny B, with all her flaws, is a treasure." -- Angela Schroeder, Sunrise Books, High Point, NC
9780525534938We Wish You Luck 1/14/2020
"A quiet novel with big payoff. I was immediately intrigued by the narrative voice; the story of what happened at a low residency MFA program (the students meet every June and January and go home to their regular lives the rest of the year) is told through the cumulative voice of the residents, minus the three most talented writers at the center of the story. These writers (Hannah, Leslie, and Jimmy) are wildly different from each other, but they form a tight bond during the first residency; this bond is irrevocably changed during the second residency, and two of them take their elaborate revenge in the third. Surprisingly heartfelt, this book is a must-read for fans of the campus novel. "-- Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC
"Navigating the conflicting but closely connected emotions of joy and grief, celebration and mourning, and love and pain, Danez Smith’s Homie is a lyrical force of reckoning. Through the evocative power of memory, Smith’s collection delves deeply into stories and hurt that we might try to run from in order to transform them into odes—odes of childhood, of loss, of the person from high school that you always wanted to tell you admired for their strength and confidence. Through an intimate understanding of the people that have populated their life, Homie creates a complex but undeniably honest portrait of human connection." -- Morgan McComb, Square Books, Oxford, MS
9781984878618The Authenticity Project 2/4/2020
"Interwining the stories of five strangers who reach out and help each other after reading and sharing their stories in a common journal, the author deals with issues of truth, falsehood, loneliness, friendship and generosity of spirit. Book clubs, in particular, will find this book rich with opportunities for discussion." -- Lia Lent, WordsWorth Books, Little Rock, AR
On Wednesday, December 4 at 2PM EST, Andy Hunter, CEO and Founder of Bookshop and Sarah High, Bookseller Liaison, discussed Bookshop, its mission, and how it will partner with independent bookstores. Set to launch in January 2020, Bookshop is an online bookstore with an explicit mission to help promote and financially support the brick-and-mortar bookselling community. Built-in collaboration with the ABA, independent booksellers, Ingram, and some of their favorite book and magazine publishers, Bookshop will be a way for websites, authors, indie stores, magazines, and bookstagramers to easily promote and purchase the books they love online without driving sales to Amazon.
Many of you have heard about Bookshop (https://bookshop.org), our new bookselling platform with a mission to financially support independent bookstores like yours. We’re about three months from when we hope to launch (after Winter Institute, 2020) and I wanted to let you know more about who we are, our plans, and our goals.
I am a book publisher, of Catapult, Counterpoint, and Soft Skull press. I am also a web publisher, of Literary Hub, CrimeReads, and Book Marks, and before that, I founded Electric Literature. I am thoroughly invested in the culture around books, and I understand how important bookstores are to to that culture.
It has been wonderful to see how resilient bookstores have been over the past decade. But I worry about the future when I see Amazon growing from 37.7% of Bookscan’s reported sales in 2015 to over 50% in 2019, and e-commerce’s share of the US retail market growing 14% year-over-year. I believe indies need a piece of online sales to safeguard their future. Some have adapted: approximately 150 stores have websites that reach five figures in annual revenue; about 25 stores reach six figures--but the majority of stores do not.
Like all of us who have made books the center of our lives, I have a deep and abiding love for bookstores, which I have known since childhood as places to find meaning. Books allowed me to discover myself and the world, and they still do. Bookstores are the physical roots of book culture, necessary for literature, ideas, our social conscience, and our understanding of ourselves and the world, and if we don’t nurture and protect them, people won’t simply find other places to get books, they’ll read fewer books. Without your stores, books will become a smaller part of our culture, and that would be bad for individuals, society, and the future, which is already so fraught.
I hope that Bookshop can help strengthen the fragile ecosystem and margins around bookselling by providing an alternative to Amazon for socially-conscious online book-buyers.
Bookshop will be a B-Corp, which is a corporation that puts our mission and the public good above financial interests. It is written in Bookshop’s bylaws that we will never sell the company to Amazon or any major US retailer. Our investors are individuals who appreciate the necessary function that bookstores serve in our society and culture. There’s no venture capital in Bookshop; we are in it for the long haul. Bookshop will have three independent booksellers on our seven-member board, and we are going to create an advisory board to ensure full transparency and community participation in our decision-making. (If you’d like to be on the advisory board, email us at email@example.com.)
It’s important to us that everyone in the bookselling community understand that we’re building this for your benefit. We are always going to be listening to booksellers and growing the platform in the way that benefits you the most. Digital projects need to experiment and evolve to succeed, so you can expect us to change and improve a lot in our first year, and you can help by offering feedback and guidance.
Our goal is to build a sustainable platform that helps solve three problems:
First, authors, publishers, media, and fans need a universal site they can link to that supports you. Sales conversions for IndieBound.org have been too low. When we ask authors and publishers to do the right thing and support indies, they shouldn’t have to forego sales.
Second, affiliate programs are changing the Internet. Amazon has a huge funnel, across most popular sites on the web, that pays 4.5% commissions on books that are sold through their affiliate links. Advertising dollars have dried up and magazines, newspapers and websites who cover books need the revenue (affiliate fees are 20% of an average digital publisher’s revenue) but their only viable option is Amazon. Even if Bookshop did nothing else, building a successful affiliate program that benefits indies is critical if we don’t want to cede the whole affiliate market to Amazon. Our affiliate program will give 10% of the list price to the affiliate and 10% to indie bookstores, and provide meaningful analytics. We expect to launch with major affiliate partners, including all the big 5 publishers, The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, Conde Nast publications, Literary Hub, Electric Literature and many more. By fall, 2020 we expect to have thousands of affiliates.
Third, a number of bookstores do not generate meaningful revenue online. All brick-and-mortar stores need to retain their customers when they shop online, yet so many of your customers shop in your stores in person, but go to Amazon when they need convenience. We want to help resource-strapped stores with a simple solution that requires no technical knowledge, no financial investment, and no internal resources (inventory, picking, packing, shipping, customer service) and allows them to easily sell books using social media, email, and the web.
Beginning in early 2020, IndieBound.org’s direct sales function will be replaced with Bookshop. IndieBound is not going away; it will remain a place to locate independent bookstores, discover the Indie Next list, and host other ABA resources. But all “buy” links to individual books on IndieBound.org will be redirected to Bookshop.org.
Ingram’s direct-to-consumer business will handle our orders, inventory, picking, packing, shipping, and returns. Ingram is excited to support our effort and eager to help.
How will Bookshop support your store?
Just take our money. 10% of the list price of everything we sell goes to a pool for indie booksellers with brick and mortar stores who are ABA members. Sign up and we’ll send you a transparent accounting and a check every six months. We don’t require anything more than your sign up: email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
If you want to be a Bookshop affiliate and sell books using our platform, you can. Brick-and-mortar ABA members earn 25% of the list price of any sale, much more than the normal 10% affiliate fee. If you don’t have a website that sells books, or just want to experiment, you can use Bookshop links to sell books. Authors or organizations who love your store can use your Bookshop to help support you; customers can buy from your bookshop page to ensure their purchases to benefit your store; and you can contribute staff picks and book lists and get the affiliate fee if our visitors buy based on your recommendations.
After paying the publisher, distributor, discounts, and processing fees, Bookshop’s net revenue will be about 30% of a book’s list price. For a media-partner like Literary Hub, the affiliate sale will be split as follows: a third goes to the affiliate, a third to the bookstore pool, and a third to Bookshop.
Bookstores get a better deal than media affiliates. We believe any bookstore-driven sale should benefit that store in particular, rather than going into a general pool. So bookstores get the 10% affiliate fee, plus the 10% that would normally go towards the pool, plus an additional 5% (because supporting stores is our mission). When we give 25% of the sale to a store, Bookshop makes less than 5%, just enough to keep the platform going.
Customers on Bookshop will be able to search for their favorite store and buy from them. Stores who provide recommendation lists (the staff picks, reading lists, shelf talkers, etc, which can appear on Bookshop’s homepage, category pages or product pages) will also get 25% of those sales (if there are multiple recommendations for the same books, they will be given equal exposure). So when a Bookshop customer adds a book to their cart based on your recommendation, you’ll get the affiliate commission. Email email@example.com to create lists for us.
When we promote Bookshop, we are going to be careful to target customers who are not already shopping at indies online. We’ll do this by convincing influencers and publications to link to Bookshop rather than Amazon. We want to convert socially-conscious Amazon customers, not yours. We hope we can also lead some customers into their local indie’s sales channel:
We are not doing signed pre-order campaigns; we are telling publishers to select indie partners for those.
We will put information about a customer’s local bookstores on every email receipt, encouraging all our customers to visit. After launch, we’ll add local bookstore events, too.
We ask all our customers if it is okay to share their email addresses with their local bookstore, and if they agree, we will provide their email to local store(s), based on their proximity.
If your store uses a Bookshop link to sell a book (on the web, social media, or email), you are entitled to their contact information - they are your customer.
Bookshop is not a replacement for your IndieCommerce or IndieLite site. We recommend that stores contact the ABA’s Indiecommerce team to build full-featured websites that can sell merchandise, handle event orders, do in-store pickup and more.
Our affiliate profiles pages are simple, with a photo, short bio, recommended book lists, and search. We expect thousands of curated pages from bookstores, authors, chefs recommending favorite cookbooks, travelers, celebrity bookclubs, mainstream media, blogs, instagrammers, and many more. We want to create a buzzing hive of book-lovers, and a rich collection of recommendations from all the people who make up the community around books. That will be a true alternative to Amazon - a site that puts humans and human recommendations first.
We hope to launch in the last week of January, 2020, right after Winter Institute. We will launch with something simple, and improve on it every week thereafter. When Bookshop launches, it will have bugs and rough edges; all new platforms do. But we will keep working to make it a little better every week, with actual customers giving us feedback. We will work to deliver a good experience, be a good partner to bookstores, and try to make the right decisions. We will eventually add features like bookseller and/or customer book reviews, used books (with indie partners through Biblio), and much more. That phase, the continuous small improvements phase, will never really end. To be a robust alternative to Amazon, with something special to offer our book lovers, we will have to continuously evolve.
If you want to be a bookshop affiliate, have questions, or would like to receive more information about Bookshop, please email Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for reading. We look forward to working with you.
Authors, booksellers, publishers, distributors, and others with ties to the book industry are invited to nominate their favorite bookstores and sales representatives for the Bookstore and Sales Rep of the Year Awards. (Please note that candidates cannot nominate themselves, nor can family members nominate them.) Finalists will be named at Winter Institute 15 in Baltimore, Md., in January. Winners will receive a write-up in the pre-BookExpo issue of Publishers Weekly’s print magazine in May 2020 and will be honored at an awards ceremony in New York City at BookExpo.
Bookstore of the Year: PW will honor an independently owned bricks-and-mortar bookstore in the U.S. that has been in operation for at least four years. In your nomination, please note what makes the bookstore special and provide contact information, including your name and industry affiliation. Bookstores that have previously received the award cannot be considered, nor can their sister stores.
Sales Rep of the Year: PW welcomes nominations for outstanding telephone and house reps as well as independent sales representatives. Please include an example of the rep’s commitment to excellence, as well as contact information, including your name and industry affiliation. Sales representatives can only win the award once.
Please email nominations for PW’s 2020 Bookstore and Sales Representative of the Year Award to: Judith Rosen at PWawards@publishersweekly.com.
SIBA will be upgrading its website on Monday, December 2. The upgrade will begin at 10 am and will take several hours to complete. During that time visitors may experience some site slowness or downtime. We're sorry for any inconvenience this might cause. If you need to access your SIBA account and are having trouble, you can contact us directly at any of the following:
Ingram Wholesale and the Ingram distribution brands are anticipating a busy holiday season. We expect the closer we get to Christmas Eve, our parcel and less-than-truck load carriers will experience sporadic service delays due to growth in package delivery volume.
Occasionally, we may split shipments that have qualified for free freight at fifteen (15) units shipped. Our objective is to ship complete, but should we have to split a shipment that has qualified for free freight, Ingram will ship both shipments free freight and will only apply a single fuel surcharge. If a shipment is "split," your delivery of the second shipment will likely be the following day.
The weeks of December 9th and December 16th will be the highest volume weeks throughout the carrier network. We encourage you to order as early as possible and, when possible, in quantities of 15 units or more during this week to mitigate network volume pressure later in the week. Of course, for all orders to Ingram, we commit to our standard Ingram order cut-off and processing times.
As always, our Customer Care team is standing by and ready to help you have a successful holiday season. Customer Care hours through December and January are 7:00am to 7:00pm CST. Effective February 3rd, Customer Care will be 7:00am to 6:00pm CST.
We wish you great success during this season and will continue to update you through ipage and through your sales representative if carrier and supply chain conditions change.
In the first couple weeks of voting, SIBA has already received hundreds of ballots for the 2020 Southern Book Prize, from customers of over 40 SIBA member bookstores. SIBA encourages its members to get their customers involved. The ballot will stay open until February 1 -- plenty of time for everyone to #VoiceYourChoice for the best Southern book of the year. www.SouthernBookPrize.com
SIBA has a developing toolkit of resources to help stores get the most out of the Southern Book Prize voting season:
Ballot Postcard: Because when it comes to placing a vote, some folks just prefer a paper ballot! If you have run out of postcard ballots to hand out to your customers you can download the ballot to print more.
Ballot embed code: You can place the online ballot directly on your website and encourage your customers to vote without leaving your site.
Action Checklist: What to do and when to do it in order to make the most out of the Southern Book Prize for your store.
Customizable Press Release: Let your local media know that you are a sponsoring partner of the Southern Book Prize, and that their readers have a voice in choosing the best Southern books of the year.
Social Media Links: All the social media tags, handles and accounts you need to promote the Southern Book Prize finalists. Be sure to tag the author when you are talking about their book.
Bookseller Reviews: A collection of the reviews your fellow SIBA booksellers have written about the finalist books.
Social Media Graphics: Right-click on any of the images below
to save them to your computer, then upload them to your website, social media or for email and other marketing. SIBA will publish new ones every week.
Some of the reviews submitted this week on Edelweiss+ from your fellow SIBA booksellers. SIBA members earn B3! points for every review if they join the SIBA community on Edelweiss. Email email@example.com to be added.
9780385541213The Starless Sea 11/5/2019
"As expected, from the author of The Night Circus, simply magical. Words feel inadequate to capture the experience of reading this. An entirely immersive experience. second to none." -- Tricia Nocti, Reading Rock, Dickson, TN
""Shine on!" is the catchphrase of Piper's favorite astronomer, but Piper feels like she will never shine, especially when her dad's new job moves her to a fancy private school. Piper's story is full of heart, science, and doesn't shy away from figuring out who you are. This book was made for middle schoolers."-- Chelsea Stringfield, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN
9780525538110On Swift Horses 11/5/2019
"In this mesmerizing debut novel, Shannon Pufahl uses a delicate stroke to paint a vast picture of the 1950s American West through the eyes of Muriel and Julius, two loners connected by an unspoken truth that lingers in the air like dust. They are both filled with a fierce tenacity; Muriel's flame is reserved, slow-burning, while Julius' is rambunctious and wide-spreading. But both are fires, manifesting at their own pace... Written with a piercing beauty and subtle grit, Pufahl has achieved a marvelous feat of lyrical prowess that gives an explosive voice to the quiet queerness of an already often-forgotten time in history. This book left me absolutely breathless from beginning to end. " -- Gage Tarlton, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC
9781335929099Every Other Weekend 1/7/2020
"Adam's life has fallen apart. His oldest brother died a few years ago and his parents are still falling apart. His dad has moved away to a run down apartment building that he's rehabbing for free rent. Adam and his other brother come visit him every other weekend, bit Adam isn't happy about it. Until he meets Jolene. She's there in a similar arrangement to visit her dad every other weekend. But she has a host of problems of her own. Every Other Weekend has SO much emotion and heart. The "insults" between Adam and Jolene were absolutely perfect. This one had me alternately in tears and laughing. Absolutely recommend this one. -- Jennifer Jones, Bookmiser, Roswell, GA
Midtown Reader in Tallahassee, Florida created a wonderfully entertaining and instructive promotional video that emphasizes the power of "Actual Intelligence" over "Artificial Intelligence." In the video, a man asks an artificially intelligent device for book recommendations, to which the device responds with a series of unhelpful answers. The man then visits Midtown Reader, where a friendly bookseller quickly ascertains which book he is looking for (he can’t remember the title, only the illustration on the cover) and shows him where it is. The bookseller’s name? Alexis. (Her name is actually Alexis, and she’s an actual Midtown Reader bookseller.)
Fundamental to the mission of Midtown Reader is a belief that independent bookstores remain cultural treasures because they offer something online retailers cannot. In a brick-and-mortar bookstore with flesh-and-blood booksellers, recommendations are both personal and powered by actual intelligence (as opposed to the artificial variety). What’s more, with regular events like author readings and book clubs, independent bookstores function as community spaces where people can connect over stories, ideas, and perspectives.
Midtown Reader was opened in November of 2016 by Sally Bradshaw, who, after a career in politics, decided to make her childhood dream of owning a bookstore a reality.
“My sister and I spent many hours in our small Mississippi Delta hometown at both our local library and our neighborhood bookstore, sadly long gone now, a victim of Amazon,” Bradshaw wrote in the store’s email newsletter. “Books led me to believe I would grow up to be a detective (thank you Nancy Drew), or a lawyer (thank you Atticus Finch). Ultimately, I settled on public policy, and left home with dreams of changing the world in the political arena. I never imagined that my best and lasting chance to change the world would come in a bookstore.”
After only three years in business, Midtown Reader has become a “destination bookstore” and a bustling community space, with multiple events every week and meaningful partnerships with community organizations and non-profits across Tallahassee. Bradshaw believes that it’s this kind of connectedness, along with caring, knowledgeable booksellers and warm, personal customer service, that make independent bookstores disruptive in an age of online retailers and invaluable always.
The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance is a trade association which represents hundreds of bookstores and thousands of booksellers in Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, and Mississippi.
SIBA exists to empower, promote, and celebrate our core member bookstores in a spirit of partnership. "Core members" are independent, privately held, brick and mortar, commercially zoned bookstores with a retail storefront, in our region.