8 Ways Bookstores Can Engage the eReading Community
by Shawneda Marks

Here are 8 ways brick and mortar stores can welcome indie and eBook authors.

  1. Introduce readers to indie authors and/or eBooks your store recommends, create affiliate links to the NYT, USA Today or other bestsellers list to eBook distributors as an affiliate to companies like Amazon , BN.com and Smashwords

  2. Sell the Kobo a viable competitor to the Kindle instead of bemoaning the eReader’s existence, many indie bookstores are exclusive to Kobo which is a pretty wicked operation and a major eBook player outside of the United States. Consider how offering KoboBooks as an indie bookstore seller will generate an unending revenue stream in addition to in-store book sells. (People buy eBooks at all times of the day and night even when the store is closed…and all sales made by a reader referred to your store count as revenue for you.)

    Ingram is the exclusive wholesale distributor for the Kobo to independent bookstores per the American BookSeller Association.

  3. Make your former enemy your friend… sell Kindles and receive a portion of all ebooks the customer buys going forward.

  4. Invite eBook authors to do readings and signings (there is an app for that… several now and many of them are free. I use Authorgraph.com)

  5. Engage readers online (GoodReads, Twitter, Facebook, Shelfari, Pinterest and LinkedIn… yes LinkedIn too!) OR hire someone to do it who loves books on behalf of your bookstore.

  6. Establish a YouTube channel and do Google Hangouts on Air with authors whose ebooks and hardback books are selling well in your store. If authors can’t afford to travel to your location bring the readers from your venue and them together to “hangout” online IT’S FREE. Live broadcasts become part of your channel and help you build an online presence… or use another online platform. (Back in 2008 I used what then called Mogulus and is now called Livestream to do a show called Faithful Folios and interviewed brave authors using live video and chat… so I have a soft place in my heart for online video author chats.)

  7. Post reviews and other book related news on your company’s blog. If you don’t have a website for your bookstore for financial reasons. Blogger.com is uber simple, mobile optimized and FREE!

  8. Take it one step further and be part of an online book promotion community… bookstore blogs, twitter feeds, Facebook pages, Google+ profiles, Goodreads profiles, Instagrams and Tumblrs are expected to share book content. Join an online promotion community and use content about books prepared by someone else to help you engage the reading community and continue to build your brand online in the literary community.

    ShawnedaEmbracing ebooks is important to the financial health of independent bookstores by helping store owners maximize exposure by offering all literary formats, creating relationships with a new generation of readers and writers as well as generating more revenue. I’ll admit there are no absolutes so it is possible there are communities where eBooks and social media engagement aren’t detrimental to the bottomline of a bookstore. However from a financial standpoint any business owner hoping their store will outlive them must consider todays youth. They are tomorrow’s book buyers and some of them may like paperback books but some will prefer only eBooks, or audible downloads and being positioned to offer content in paper and electronic formats offers the means to provide reading opportunities for readers of all mediums and continue to keep the doors of independent bookstores open.