Independent Bookstore Day

Not to be a contrarian asshole or anything, but why does everyone love independent bookstores? I am sincerely asking. Because I have not had great experiences.

As a reader, I kind of get it. There’s a certain thrill to buying a ratty copy of the The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin for a dollar, but those finds are few and far between for me. And if they don’t have what you want, I honestly don’t understand why you would pay more and wait longer for a bookstore to order a copy when you could get it from Amazon. Is it solely the anti-corporate, buy-local thing? ‘Cause I get that, but I’m also broke almost all the time and prescriptions still aren’t cheap.

As an author, though, I really don’t fucking get it. I know a lot of authors have great success with getting their books into independent stores and doing readings there and stuff, but almost all of my experiences have been straight-up embarrassing, if not insulting.

In New Jersey, when Exponential Apocalypse first came out, I went to several bookstores in Montclair and was all but laughed out. They said they couldn’t spare the shelf space for someone just starting out. Which I get, but it did seem to run counter to their “we support local authors” ethos. It’s not like I was running off shitty copies at Kinkos. Plus they seemed super annoyed that I even asked.

Albuquerque was a little better in that I actually got my books onto a few stores’ shelves, but even then, one of the stores charged me a stocking fee and returned my books after three months because they didn’t sell. Which didn’t really seem fair since they had my books hidden in a corner. I had to literally climb over stuff to find them. Suffice it to say, I lost money on that endeavor and haven’t tried to get any of the newer books in there. One of the other stores is currently considering letting me do a book signing there (on consignment, of course) for Revenge-aroni, but they want to make sure they can’t get someone bigger instead.

The local Barnes & Noble, meanwhile, purchased five copies of all of my books for their store before I’d even finished talking with them.

So, again, legitimately asking: What am I missing? What am I doing wrong? Am I expecting too much from these stores? Or is this just the way it is?