I read an article a few days ago on The Guardian about a mainstream author who is refusing to sell her next book on Amazon in order to support local bookstores.
It’s well and good for those authors who are big-name enough to have the luxury of picking and choosing where to sell their books and can therefore afford to boycott Amazon. If like me you are an Indie or small press author, I’m sure you can relate when I say that the bulk of my sales are from Amazon, and Amazon sponsored ads have been essential in helping me reach new readers. In fact, my Amazon sales provide a nice supplementary payment of around £50-£80 a month, in addition to my day job salary, and it certainly helps in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis for small scale authors like me who aren’t so privileged.
I am, of course, in favour of supporting local bookstores; as a reader I often buy from small independent book shops in my hometown of Belfast. As an author, however, I do not have the luxury of my books being stocked in local bookstores; they are available online for click and collect through Waterstones, Foyles, etc. but not kept in store for display on the shelves. When my debut novel, Gods of Avalon Road, was published, my local branch of Waterstones displayed a few copies on the shelves that I provided them with. These copies sold out within a few weeks, and after a 50% cut off the retail price, I ended up at a net loss per book. This didn’t faze me; I was happy that customers were buying my book, and as it was only a few copies, reaching new readers was my main consideration at that time. But in the long term, this would’ve been unsustainable as a business model. For big, traditional publishers, they can incur any costs. For an author DIYing their own publicity (aka, me) it’s a loss I can’t afford the luxury of and so, alas, I stopped supplying books to my local stores. I now primarily sell books online through Amazon, or at live author events.
So, while I can understand the sentiment for big-publisher-backed authors to want to sell at only local booksellers, and while I think that’s a great help in keeping those businesses afloat, it sadly doesn’t apply to me as an author. I’ll continue to buy books from independent bookstores, but I’ll keep selling my own books through primarily Amazon.