Remember in May of last year, when I reported on Gulf Coast Bookstore, a bookstore in Fort Myers, Florida that showcased the works of independent authors in the Florida area? Well, recently I was contacted through my Facebook page by one of the co-owners of the store with some very interesting news about Gulf Coast. Apparently since the store opened, it’s done rather well. In fact, it’s done so well that it’s expanded. And it’s expanded into P.J. Boox.
Opening in October of last year, PJ Boox currently houses 260 authors from about 11 countries, and plans to grow that number to 500 by the time they hit full capacity, each author getting to display ten of their books in the store. The way the store displays the books allows for readers to get a full look at the books’ covers, which allows readers to make a more powerful connection with the books. And the most interesting and exciting part, at least in my humble opinion, is that authors can actually interact with readers, from anywhere in the world, via Skype or other video-chat options, all in the store’s reading room (so if your book is featured by a book club, you can actually hear what the readers say. Hopefully that’s a good thing).
According to store co-founder and co-owner Patti Brassard Jefferson, the idea of PJ Boox came to her soon after she opened Gulf Coast Bookstore. Within a couple of months, she was apparently “inundated” with messages from authors. This inspired the idea for a larger bookstore that could host more indie and small-press authors. Thus we have PJ Boox today. And while other bookstores for indie authors have since appeared in other cities around the US, PJ Boox and its owners still manage to be trendsetters among the group.
So now to answer the most important question: how does an author get their books in the store? According to PJ Boox’s website, it’s actually quite simple. What you do is rent out space in the store for four months and send them up to ten of your books. In exchange, the store will stock and sell the books. And you get a majority of the royalties back (98% for in-store sales, 80% for online sales). Top that, Amazon! And you can pay for certain upgrades on your rental that include special online options and even more shelf space in the store. It’s not a bad deal, especially since you get some great exposure in the store.
In fact, I might have to try this once my new book comes out later this year. It might expose people to my sci-fi series.
And if you want to learn more about PJ Boox, check out their website for rental rates, books by great indie authors, and information on upcoming events.
I actually saw a post about this on Facebook the other day in an author group. As I mentioned there, what I would be interested to see is some sales data on books – how many authors sell all ten of their book? What genres are they in? What’s the book cover quality (because sadly, a lot of indies have not-trad-standard covers – so far ebooks have managed to “get away” with this to an extent, but is this making a difference in the bookstore setting?) How quickly do the authors sell out their ten books on average? Do those sales translate to later *online* backlist sales (aka are those bookstore customers willing to then go online to purchase, or do they prefer to continue purchasing from only bookstores, meaning you’d need to cycle all your backlist books through the store?**) Depending on how long this has been running depends on whether those numbers are available or even exist yet, but I know I’d have to take a hard look at them first because I have a tight budgets and the almost 200$ I’d need to do this (rent/setup fees/book cost/shipping) could as easily be spent on advertising from places that guarantee ebook downloads (where I make a higher royalty and I know that the customers who like the book are willing to continue buying online because they just bought online). Not that I’m saying this isn’t a good idea, or that it won’t be successful, or that an author couldn’t really get traction this way, just that I am a “show me” kind of gal – especially at that price. I do think it’s a good idea, just one authors need to think about before budgeting.
**I actually know people who are pretty much exclusive to one way of shopping or the other – who will only buy from a bookstore or only buy online and in some cases will skip books they want to read because they can’t get them “in store”.
Yeah, all relevant questions. In any case, I’d definitely like to try it when my new book comes out and see what happens. After all, if my last sale is taught me anything, I need to try several different platforms if I want real results.
I’ll admit knowing that you know them makes me feel a bit better about it than the post on FB did. When I mentioned those things the original poster (who I don’t know) got very combative which I admit made me a bit suspicious in a day and age where there are so many scams going around.
Yeah, I think one of those scams are trying to target me. I’ve had several texts from a variety of area codes asking me to be a nanny for some person or another. Can you say weird?
That is beyond bizarre!
Yeah, I know. I still have no idea where it’s coming from or what the angle is. A couple of times I’ve texted back “You have the wrong number”, but I haven’t seen any replies. In any case, I think I’ll just delete them from here on out.
I finally got around to this post.
It’s possible we’re looking at a trend that could be big in the future. I do agree with Joleene that indie authors would need to have professionally done books in order to make this successful. If this catches on, I think the bookstores would need to have some quality control in place. Make sure the cover looks good. Make sure the editing is up to par. Make sure formatting is clean. Etc.
I would love to try this, but there’s no way I can afford it with the house repairs I have coming up. I do like the idea, though. I think it has a lot of potential.
Good thing I’m having Joleene doing the cover for my next book. If I ever try this, I’ll let you know how it goes.