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Today’s headlines sounded rather jolly, the ebook is declining, the print book is rising, ra ra ra.
Here’s the BBC story: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-39718016
“Last year, one of the most eye-catching figures from our statistics was that physical book sales were increasing while digital book sales dropped,” said chief executive Stephen Lotinga.
And here it is again in The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/apr/27/screen-fatigue-sees-uk-ebook-sales-plunge-17-as-readers-return-to-print
“Britons are abandoning the ebook at an alarming rate with sales of consumer titles down almost a fifth last year, as “screen fatigue” helped fuel a five-year high in printed book sales.”
And here’s the source press release from which most of the stories run:
Great stuff, let me hitch my chariot to that fiery phoenix with Excalibur strapped to my back and, like vinyl, I will once more rise and conquer the airwaves.
Except, it’s hooey. And as a bookseller, who doesn’t own an e-reader and has never read a book online that’s a little bit sad to hear. However, false representation is even sadder, so here is what is wrong with those figures.
They don’t include Amazon or Apple as publishers.
Anyone in the book trade understands the importance of these two giants in the e-book sector so to issue figures that suggest e-books sales are down across the board is disingenuous, to say the least. This report is based on the figures from the Publishing Association members, all the major and minor (well not so minor) print publishing houses. Amazon, Apple, Kobo etc are not members so their figures aren’t included.
For a more balanced report have a look at these figures (Based on Amazon.com sales – no Apple or Kobo therefore)
As you can see the big five publishers do have the lion’s share of the e-book market, which makes sense. They are huge and established and account for most of the books in print. Amazon in comparison are small publishers but they are rising and their figures need to be included.
The second thing to bear in mind is that six years ago downloading Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency as an e-book would cost you £2.99, today it will cost you £5.49 and the paperback will cost you £5.99 (new from the publisher). The e-book prices are set and owned by the publisher, there is no second-hand market for them. The publishers themselves were creating the drive towards e-books by offering them at massively reduced prices. They then appeared shocked and horrified that people were buying their vastly reduced products over the hard copies. They also seemed to fail to grasp that whilst they were the big boys, they were playing in Amazon’s playground. It feels a bit David and Goliath but here we need to remember that in this analogy David is being played by Amazon, so maybe we need to think of Amazon as more like the flashing red light on the car dashboard. Small and irritating but if you don’t pay attention you’re heading towards a massive clusterfuck.
So now some people look at £5.49 for an e-book and think, nope, I’ll buy a second-hand copy for 1p but that’s only some people. At that sort of price hike and disparity in the product (something real, that you actually own or something ephemeral) you would expect e-book sales to have fallen off a cliff but that hasn’t happened.
Which means that e-books are here to stay. Which is fine.
ps. if you want a further scare have a look at Tapas or Spooked. Delivered one line at a time.
pps. It’s all cool, there is room for digital and print, neither will die out. Now, I’m off to put Ella on the record player. Have a great weekend.
I speak as a bookshop owner. Someone who loves books. Most of us that run bookshops do, so please bear in mind that if you want us to stock your book we theoretically, will lend a receptive ear. But here are a few tips to help make the whole submission process a bit easier.
Running a bookshop profitably is a tough gig. Every product needs to earn its place. And yes, we do think of them as products, if you think of them as your baby you can see where the conflict is going to start. Make this the foremost thing you consider before approaching a bookshop. Oh and remove ego (so hard I know) but retain confidence, (even harder, I get it.)
Here are some things to consider.
Step One. Do you just turn up or book an appointment?
This is a heads I win, tails you lose situation. If an author phones me in advance I will generally ask them to send me something rather than a face to face meeting. This is usually because face to face meetings are excruciating for me. The majority of authors have no idea how to pitch and are very emotionally attached to their work. I completely understand that but it can cause awkwardness when I say no.
That said, if you want to wing it and just turn up, make sure that it’s at a quiet time of the day and be prepared to have an immediate and outright refusal. Rare but you have doorstepped them, so be prepared for a flat no. Of course, they could be delightful and pop the kettle on. I amrarely, if ever, delightful. Check their website or FB page in advance, they may have actually written a blog about it.
Step Two. Sending something in the post.
If you can afford to, send a copy of the book for them to keep / sell. Sign it. Honestly, don’t be embarrassed to do it, customers love to buy signed copies. If your book sells quickly the bookshop owner will be tempted to try a second or third copy. Who knows, they may buy enough to fund your villa in Sorento?
If you want the book returned to you, ensure you provide a full paid SAE. Do not expect anyone that has to choose between penury or bookselling, to cough up for postage to return a book that they didn’t ask for and don’t want.
Post or e-mail an A4 sheet, pitching your book. Include your RRP. your discount, reviews, blurb, ISBN, proven sales and cover art. You would be amazed how often cover art is missed off. Trust me, we DO all judge a book by its cover. If you aren’t confident enough about your cover get it re-done. No ifs or buts. If it’s no good your book will never sell.
Check the points outlined in the face to face meeting below.
If you have no sales figures or reviews and you are completely new to this, don’t blag it. Ask for help. Like I said, booksellers love books and we will quite happily offer advice on the marketing of it. Ask me if you want.
Having sent the book or the A4 flyer, follow up with a call. Within the week. Take it on the chin if they say no.
Step Three. Turn Up In Person and be ready.
1. Does your book look good? Does it look professional? If the shop owner suggests that it doesn’t, listen to them, they handle thousands.
2. If you have a proven track record of sales for god’s sake tell the owner. Likewise, great reviews and media attention. Local radio, newspaper etc. You are trying to make a pitch, sell it.
3. Think about how the book fits in with their shop. Stress any local connection, including yourself!
4. Tell them that you will do all the heavy lifting, provide a poster or review card, publicise it on social media.
5. Point out the cross benefits, it will bring more people into their shop or see them on SM. Don’t sell this if you can’t deliver it.
6. Work on a sale or return basis. Give them a decent profit margin. They will start flinching at anything under 40% discount.
7. Be nice. They are tired and broke too
8. If they say no, that’s fine, don’t take it to heart and for god’s sake don’t sulk and really, really don’t slag them off on Facebook. All you do there is give them publicity, make yourself look like a douche and thereby give them extra credit for not taking on a douche.
9. If they say no, consider if your product has a problem. Poorly written, poorly produced. If not, it just wasn’t for them, or sometimes THEY are the douche. It does happen
10. Having gone through this list consider is it worth the effort? If your book is a local walking guide you need to be in there. If not, think about it. Might your book be better as an e-book?
Anyway, those are my thoughts, I have worked with some really great authors and have been able to help them start their career with good advice and feedback. I act as a social media agent for them and generally support them as much as I can. I turn away more than I take on. This is based purely on the quality of the product. I never say no to well-produced talent. As I said at the beginning, I love books. Good books.
Steve and I sell lots of stuff. Thankfully. Mostly books but as we go to auctions we also pick up lots of other stuff. We also buy and list separately which can mean that when we come to pack and post something that has just sold, it can be the first time that we see it. Many is the time that I look at something wonderful, or funny or downright bizarre only to have to instantly post it to its buyer. Most times if we find something that we think the other may like we wave it in their direction and it gets added to the horde pile we have at home. Smaug has nothing on us. But occasionally, now and then, heartbreakingly something slips through the net. I remember them all. The most recent heartbreaker was this incredibly haunting etching of Ophelia. It wasn’t an image I had seen before and I thought it really caught how young and vulnerable Ophelia was. However, someone had just bought it and spitting tacks I contemplated ways to “lose” the package. Lost in the mail, shop burnt down, raided by pirates. Ultimately I took it on the chin, put it in the post and went off and had a hot chocolate and sulked for a bit. Oh and had a whine at Steve for not realising that I needed that etching.
Anyway, the buyer received it and got in touch to say how lovely it was. Yep, just more salt in the wound. Months, many many months passed and then they got in touch again, to show me what they had done with it. And this is where the story comes good.
Just look at what she did with it! It is exquisite. To read more about the details have a read of her post
And the best bit is that you can buy it as a huge decal for your own home.
It has to be said that this is the first time that I have ever felt good about letting something go because now eveyone gets to share it.
There are lots of perks to running a bookshop, obviously, the main one is running a bookshop, but close behind that is receiving free books. Sometimes they are excellent, often they are not, not because they are no good but because they are just not my cup of tea, and given that I don’t like tea this suggests just how picky I am. Books arrive in bright red padded envelopes, sparkly metallic boxes, with jigsaw puzzles, bookmarks, music tracks, booze and yesterday, chocolate.
The gifts generally tie into the book, Under a Pole Star, a tale of polar exploration, came with brandy and mintcake, A Year of Marvellous Ways, set in the Cornish countryside came with Slow Gin. Are these gifts shameless bribes from the publishers to make sure their book gets noticed? Absolutely. Is that a problem? Not in the slightest. I am quite capable of receiving gifts without feeling beholden. Personally, I think publishers know when they have a winner on their hands and get a little generous or maybe it does just give them the edge. If I receive five books and two have gifts I generally look at those first, if the book is good which it invariably is, my time is taken up and those other books, unless their blurb hits my sweetspot, get put in a pile and invariably forgotten about. So the gifts aren’t a bribe but they are a way of getting the book noticed.
All this leads me to a very pretty package that I received this week and the first thing I noticed was the bar of chocolate because although it was a specially commissioned bar, I recognised the packaging folds. This was a bar of chocolate made by Kernow Chocolate, a brand I am very familiar with as we have stocked them for years, wandered around their factory when they were operating out of farm barns and are a truly wonderful local brand. The book was set in Cornwall and the publishers / PR had chosen a local Cornish company. A very good start, it also helped that it was sea salt chocolate, our best seller!
I then gave the book a quick glance, teenage romance set in Cornwall, drifted past it, not my thing, and read the covering letter. Publisher and author both had great pedigrees, Puffin Club, Chicken House Publishing, Harper Collins, lots of very good names which again told me that the book was probably half way decent.
Anyway, I took some photos, ate the chocolate and promised to say nice things after a quick browse and maybe even stock it. Evening came and I didn’t fancy starting Guernica, it looked a bit gruelling so I figured teen romance would be the ticket. Oh boy, what a treat that I had nearly missed.
One Silver Summer by Rachel Hickman is the tale of an orphan and a prince, of ponies and a perfect Cornish summer. It really is the most gorgeously, warm romantic tale and I was hopelessly drawn in and hooked. I don’t want to say too much about it without spoiling some of the storylines but it really is worth getting, I can just see this book being passed all around the classroom. It made me think of Jilly Cooper and Daphne du Maurier whilst being wonderfully innocent. Despite making me cry it does have a happy ending and we will, of course, be stocking it!
Reading Age 11+ Available May 25th.
December 2nd 2006 – 2016 and onwards!
The last twenty years have seen a massive decline in independent bookshops but here in a corner of Cornwall one is flourishing.
Another 67 bookshops closed in 2013, leaving just 987 in 2014 across the country. In 2005, the figure was 1,535. A third of all UK bookshops have closed in the past 10 years and yet here we are.
Founded in 2002, we started selling books online via a newcomer called Amazon. We were so successful doing this that we needed to find somewhere to store the books, so we rented a room below the Manor House dentist’s. We opened the door and contrary to all the news stories that no one wanted bookshops any more, people walked in. When the dentist needed to expand we moved out to the weighbridge in Charlestown which was lovely but tiny and so we started to look around for a permanent home. Hello Mevagissey.
During this this time we have weathered a global recession, austerity cuts, the rise in kindle and e-books and the continuing growth of Amazon and like a little Cornish limpet we have hung on in there. Since 2006 we have grown from a second-hand bookshop to a mix of new, used and well loved. We have published books, Losing it in Cornwall and Scribbles from the Edge, others are on the way. We’ve held many wonderful signing events with EV Thompson, made friends with lots of great authors and supported many new writers.
Hurley Books is now an established feature of Mevagissey and every year people return to stand in front of our famous black board to try to solve our puzzles. We have done this with the help and support of great staff and wonderful family and ultimately from the customers that walk in the door.
Join us on the 2nd where we will be launching a wide range of promotions throughout the month of December.
I love books, let me tell you, no one loves books more that I do. Everyone tells me I have great books, I don’t know, but it’s what people tell me. And those books? Great books by the way. They are written by great authors, the very best, let me tell you, seriously, we have gathered the very best books together. Fantastic books and together we are going to make Christmas great again.
What about a signed first edition signed by the very best people. Trust me I know them and they are the best. What about Ann Cleeves? She writes the best crime fiction ever and what about Michelle Paver, she tells the very best scary stories and trust me I should know. How about Stef Penney, what a knock out! Great women, I love these women and no one loves women more than me, let me tell you. We’ve even got the latest signed Ben Aaronovich. Numbers are limited for all these so be quick.
How about children’s books? Let me tell you I’ve heard about children, I understand they are really great. Fantastic people,and they will love these books. Of course you will have to buy these for them but I can tell you that if you do that will make you the best, the very best. If you like surprises, and who doesn’t, especially when they can be just so surprising, then try some of our pop ups. Or what about That’s Not My Penguin. Great books. Really. Trust me,we are going to make Christmas great again.
Fact books, fun books, flipping fabulous books. We have them all. It’s going to be great!
I had been chatting with a friend online about books and he mentioned that I should walk over to Portholland to see some movie magic going on, he promised I would not be disappointed so Steve and I grabbed the dogs, parked at Porthluney and headed over the coast path toward Portholland. At any time of year this is a gorgeous walk, large open fields falling down to the cliff edges, the gorse is always in bloom and butterflies bask on the sun warmed path. The dogs ran around like loons and we gradually walked down the path and onto Portholland or so we thought. Hang on, goes Steve, since when was there a pub here? Forget the pub, says I, when did they get a post office and a Welsh one at that? and together we walked down towards a church and entire ancient graveyard that hadn’t existed a month ago. When Hollywood go to town, they take the village and turn it inside out, and then they place it in a whole other country.
The village of East Portholland had become the filming location for Tim Burton’s adaptation of the book Miss Peregrine Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. Miss Peregrine’s is a magical tale of a special school for special children who are under attack from sinister creatures. It’s a great tale and is perfect for a Burton treatment.
We wandered through the village front which was basically an open set and took the dogs onto the beach to go jump in the waves. The dogs being dogs did their business and we scooped it up and headed back through the village to go home. As I walked through I spotted a bin and popped the dog bag in it. I had only taken two steps away when a charming man dashed up to me and asked me to remove said article. I must admit I looked confused as there was already rubbish in there, ah yes, says he, but that is prop rubbish in a prop bin. A chap was sitting on the wall by the bin grinned at me as if to confirm the gaffer’s assertion. By now I had managed to attract an audience, including a scowling Tim Burton, and had to return to the bin and retrieve my bag of poo. I walked back past the chap on the wall to share a grimace and a “what are Hollywood like?” eye roll when I suddenly realised that the chap was Mr Rupert Everett. I hadn’t thought I could be any more mortified, but there we are. Quite frankly I’d have felt less stupid if I tucked my skirt into my knickers and walked into Waitrose.
And with my brush with frame securely ruined I rejoined Steve who was crying with laughter further along the wall, gathered up the dogs and headed back along the cliffpath laughing all the way home.
The film will be released this September and should be worth a look. I shall be paying close attention to the bins!
Look at that gorse! That’s proper Cornish gorse.
Miss Peregrine’s is available in the shop for £7.99 and really is very good. Books two and three are also available.
It’s fair to say that Hurley Books doesn’t do much in the way of events. Our highlights tend to be when we change over the blackboard, but Steve bumped into Liz Fenwick at The Wadebridge Bookshop (excellent bookshop), thought she seemed really nice, her books are incredibly popular and she was keen to do a signing. Having decided it would be a good idea and set it all up, Steve then bowed out and said it was over to me. Rat. So I accepted the challenge with great nerves, would it be a dismal failure, would anyone show, would this poor lady be stuck in a corner for 2 hours twiddling her thumbs, would I have to make…small talk? As is always the case, all fear were unfounded. Liz turned up with a great personality, interesting tales and gossip and lots of lovely cake. She charmed the customers and sold like a demon. It was fabulous listening to her talking about the back stories behind her books and discovering just how many people absolutely love and recognise her stories. From one reader I heard how Fenwick’s writing took her straight back to the banks of the Helford, drinking lemonade threw a straw in a bottle and watching the boats go by as the adults sat in the pub.
All her books stand on their own but if you want them in chronological order it’s Affair, House, Stranger and Sky
Hello, you may have noticed a change in the website, or not. Either way, we have a new site and it is full of teething problems not least that we have currently lost our e-mails but those are tears for another time. In this time we are excited that this website is going to do more of what we want. Eventually.