The future of bookselling would seem headed toward a single vanishing point: online, and specifically, Amazon. But recent developments raise hopes for publishers and readers that there will be alternatives.
According to the American Booksellers Association, the number of indie stories is growing rather than declining. In Seattle, though, the city’s newest bookstore near the University Village shopping complex is decidedly not “indie.” Indeed, Amazon Books is the first “brick-and-mortar” presence for the online retail giant often blamed for the demise of bookstores.
“Amazon Books features a lot of Amazon gadgets, which has lined it up for criticism that the store lacks the quintessential, ‘let’s hang out at the bookstore vibe,’ which I found a little surprising,” notes Andrew Albanese, Publishers Weekly senior writer. “Have you been to a Barnes & Noble lately? It’s basically a toy store with books, and of course, there are massive Nook displays, too.”
And after lying dormant for nearly a year, “destination site” and online bookseller Zola Books has resurfaced as a tech provider, enabling anyone to sell books, print or digital.
“The Zola API is just a few lines of code. You can drop it on your web site, and immediately sell books, including books from all the big five publishers as wellas all the e-book providers and platforms, with print sales fulfilled by Ingram,” Albanese tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally. “What Zola hopes to do now is to power a micro-retail revolution, fueling direct sales for anyone with a web site: whether indie bookstores looking to sell books through their homepages; small publishers or authors looking for an easy way to sell direct to consumers; libraries; bloggers; and other media sites.”
Every Friday, CCC’s “Beyond the Book” speaks with the editors and reporters of “Publishers Weekly” for an early look at the news that publishers, editors, authors, agents and librarians will be talking about when they return to work on Monday.