October 19, 2017

The Sin of the Desert and Book Sales

By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine

As we all know book sales are controlled by a relatively small number of book stores.  Sales figures are noted by an even smaller number of booksellers and the large retail stores like Target, Walmart, Costco and Sam’s Club are not considered. You can be successful as an author and not have a New York Times best seller but the title alone does propel your career. So getting your book in a store isn’t always easy. This was noted by several authors and a solution was presented.

Just as Southern Writers Magazine is for Authors by Authors, there now are bookstores owned by authors for authors. Several successful authors have opened bookstores for the sale of their books and books they like by fellow authors, local authors and others. Ann Patchett, author of Bel Canto, Commonwealth, State of Wonder, This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, The Magician’s Assistant and more owns along with her business partner Karen Hayes, Parnassus Books in Nashville TN.

Ann and Karen realized that at one time there were over 3,000 independent bookstores. Their numbers dwindled to 1650 but thanks to owners like Patchett and Hayes their numbers have increased to 2300. Even with this increase Amazon controls ½ of all book sales. Only books with backing from the big publishers, big agents and authors that have sold millions are moved through Amazon. Knowing this Patchett and Hayes has opened her door to promote local authors, all authors and other independent bookstores. 

There is a law in business known as the “Sin of the Desert” which states if you are in the desert, know where the water is but don’t tell others, that is a sin. These owners and others are sharing with other independent bookstores just as Southern Writers Magazine connects authors with authors. Other authors with independent book stores and more joining their ranks every day are Judy Bloom, Garrison Keillor and Jeff Kinney.

Hopefully, we all will support them and their efforts for an opportunity to return to what we all loved, our local independent bookstore.  Have you visited an author owned bookstore?           

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