Andy Laties co-founded Children's Bookstore, Children’s Bookfair Company, Children’s Museum Store, and Povertyfighters.com, and created the film Art of Selling Children’s Books. He shared the 1987 Lucile Micheels Pannell Award for bringing children and books together. He co-founded and still manages the museum shop at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Massachusetts, which Parents Choice called “the very best bookstore for picture books in the entire world.”
Andy Laties' Rebel Bookseller champions the importance of the role that independent bookstores play in our society. Andy has opened four bookstores over the past couple decades and his enthusiasm for the future of indie bookstores has not been dampened by the changing economic landscape, the death of Borders, or the rise of e-books. He argues passionately that indie bookstores will always hold an important place in local communities, offering diverse and personal selections and playing a part in encouraging community involvement.
Did you know that Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos revealed several years ago that 75% of books he sells represent only 1% of all the titles listed on his website? That is, he sells lots of copies of the top 100,000 titles in his (currently) 10 million-title database—but the vast majority of titles listed on Amazon barely sell at all.
Its true that I am an author—after all, I did write a book—but I do not consider myself a real writer. This is because I have a very healthy regard for real writers, having presented hundreds of writers in my bookstores at readings, panel discussions, festivals and story-hours (you meet lots of them in my book). So, when I realized that I had no option in my life but to write a book—because events had brought me to a crisis—I decided I needed a good model to rely on. I chose Saul Alinsky’s Reveille For Radicals. That book had shown me that the principles of activism are easiest to grasp if they are illustrated with personal anecdotes.
Well, I also encourage people who cannot afford to buy a book at an indie bookstore to please support their local libraries. So on to the elephant in the room—Barnes & Noble. We know that Borders fell and many great people lost their jobs. I'm going to be the devil's advocate for a second: before and after my book came out, I have gotten such amazing support from B & N, not to mention very moving fan letters from people who work there. These are real people with real jobs. You are very critical of B & N and other chain stores in Rebel Bookseller. Can you talk a little bit about your take on them right now, for those who haven't read your book? And if you could tell the powers-that-be at B & N how to be more indie-friendly and author friendly, what would you say? Can Barnes & Noble coexist peacefully with the little shop around the corner in these bizarre and very hard times?
So onward and upward—what advice do you have for authors who would like to support their local bookstores (and other indie bookstores across the country) and how can they cultivate relationships with these places?
Great advice....I am trying to do that myself. And Andy, if you were to look into a crystal ball, how do you see the future of the book business in the next 10 to 20 years? For example, where do you think e-books are heading? Will there be more brick and mortar stores or will they no longer exist?
Ten years from now there will be many more indie bookstores, perhaps three times the current number. E-books will represent more than half of what will be a much larger total book market. Remember, book sales were suppressed for fifteen years by the big chainstores’ impact on book prices. Chainstore growth forced book prices up. E-books are permitting a rebound: reading is on a huge upswing because book prices are being forced down.
Very interesting...I like your optimism about the future in this time of economic despair! So what's up for you next? Are you working on any new book or are you mostly selling them, along with all the other ten thousand creative things you do?
Thanks so much for your time and your inspiring words about the future of the book. I wish you the very best on the remainder of your book tour for Rebel Bookseller.
You can find Andy Laties' book Rebel Bookseller wherever books are sold but hey, why not go to an indie bookstore and order it there before you compulsively search for it on Amazon! Great idea, right? Go to Indie Bound to find an independent bookstore near you!: http://www.indiebound.org/ Mirabee