Amazing, isn’t it? The renovated power plant on the harbor in Baltimore is my favorite Barnes & Noble store. Giant smoke stacks rise up through the floors as escalators with their visible mechanics transport curious minds to shelves upon shelves of wonder.
Whenever I see my Nook sales, I start to envision a girl tucked away in a corner of that store as she sips a steaming mocha latte between page turns…or I suppose, page advances.
That’s the first thing that sprang to mind when our club leader asked that we write about our experience with Barnes & Noble. Curious, isn’t it? My initial reaction was to write about the emotion, not fact; the reader’s experience, not the author’s.
It didn’t take me long to pinpoint why that is. As an author, I haven’t really had an experience with B&N. None. The Nook versions of my book are distributed to B&N through Smashwords; the paperback versions through CreateSpace. I have no direct contact with B&N. And it caused me to wonder…do I lose something because of that?
Amazon offers extensive free marketing tools for authors: Author Central, discussion boards, basic marketing tips. My sales at Amazon surpass B&N every time. So when T.R. Graves asks what Barnes & Noble has done for me lately, I have to shrug. I don’t know. They may offer support to indie authors through PubIt, their own publishing platform, but I don’t use it. For me, they just simply list books for sale in their ginormous online catalog of over 30 million products. A catalog that realized a 10.9 percent decrease in 2012 holiday sales, compared to the holiday season of 2011, according to TechCrunch.
I’m making quite the strong argument. Does this mean that I will yank my books from their catalog as soon as I quit typing? No. I wouldn’t dream of it.
Even though it’s not my leading channel, it is usually second. B&N, despite declining sales and a plan to close 20 stores in the next 10 years, makes my work far more accessible (at least for now). It is nothing more than a listing, but it is a listing with the Barnes & Noble. The name still has weight. There is credibility in the brand that by extension positively affects the authors who choose to pursue a distribution path to their brass-knobbed, glass doors.
But that’s not all. For me, B&N is about hope. Every author dreams of seeing their book on the shelf at a major bookstore. It’s the one order that the mighty Amazon can’t fulfill. And even though B&N doesn’t typically stock indie books in their physical stores, that knowledge doesn’t stop me from checking the shelves every time. That tiny chance is all I need to hold onto my daydream. Without the very real bookstore, I’m left with the virtual ones where there is no girl in the corner, no mocha latte, and no see-through escalators.
Of course, that’s just my opinion. I do not anticipate giving the same answer if you ask me in 10 years, or maybe even in 5. At some point practicality will overcome my sentimental daydreaming where B&N is concerned.
Take a look at what our other club members had to say about selling books with Barnes & Noble.