Amidst the Amazon/Hachette dispute that is resulting in a drought of digital inventory, we decided to check in with a local bookstore to inquire how this was playing out on street level. Jenn Northington, events director for WORD Bookstore in Greenpoint, was more than happy to answer our questions, while also showcasing their crafty shelving response to the current book-selling debacle.
Brookyln Brief: What is the current Amazon/Hachette fighting about? What do you customers need to know or understand?
Jenn Northington: I only know the details of the current fight as they’ve been reported — that it’s a disagreement over discount terms. Amazon has had similar disputes with publishers over the years.
BB: How is it affecting your store / inventory / sales? Or is it only affecting the digital realm, and therefore (in a roundabout way) helping brick and mortar stores like you?
JN: It has certainly drawn attention to brick and mortar stores like us, who are happy to sell anyone these titles and to take preorders. We even have a display up in store, in case people come in looking for them!
BB: In the end, this is still a fight between a “Big Six(Five)” publisher and the digital giant Amazon. Are we still missing the idea of exploring indie publishers? Is there a lack of coordination between indie publishers and indie bookstores that could be strengthened? A recent article by author Dolan Morgan on this topic comes to mind.
Dolan Morgan has been a good friend of WORD for a long time, and we’re delighted to be hosting his Indie Press book group. I’m not sure that this issue is actually limited to the Big Five — I’d be surprised if they hadn’t had fights like this with independent publishers as well. I do hope that independent bookstores will find more ways to work with independent publishers in the future, but just like we can’t carry every book from the major publishers, we can’t carry books from every independent press. Each bookstore has to decide what fits in their store. We’ve got a lot of customers who really enjoy small presses, and our staff read them as well, so it makes sense for us to carry what we can.
BB: Anything else about the Amazon/Hachette issue, how it’s impacted your store, or about the successes and challenges your store faces that you’d like to touch upon?
JN: I’d hope that readers remember that there are lots of great authors out there, and lots of ways to get books. It’s easy to think “Oh, I’ll just order that from Amazon,” but there are indie bookstores all over the country who carry things that Amazon doesn’t, and will take the time to help you find a book that you’ll love. Many indies also have great websites, take preorders, and ship all over the world!