Subscribe to our free email newsletter. We'll update you once or twice a week, and we'll never rent or sell your email address to anyone. Thanks.
At the beginning, bookstores only sold the books they actually printed. The bookstore and the publisher were one and the same.
Throughout our lifetime, of course, that hasn’t been true. A unique element of this industry more than any other I can think of is that every store sells every book. They might not have it in stock, but just about every bookstore is eager to sell any decent book.
Books actually benefit from being next to their competitors. A book sells better at a bookstore than it does at furniture store.
The flip side of this, though, is that publishers and bookstores do their best work when they can promote a particular book more than the others. Promoting a book, making it stand out, working hard to have it be this book instead of any book—well, when you’re the author and it’s your book, this is exactly what you seek. And that’s what the very best bookstores and the very best publishers do.
I have always respected and celebrated the comity and camaraderie of the book industry. I think the positive contribution of a book to our culture demands that we treat them as special objects, and that publishing and selling them is not just another form of commerce.
Today, my longtime publisher Portfolio (part of Random Penguin whatnot) is republishing four books that started here at Domino: Anything You Want, Poke the Box, We Are All Weird and Read This Before Our Next Meeting. You can see all four of them right here.
In a nutshell these are two of the problems facing bookselling going forward: How to build an online store that’s good at selling a particular book, not merely all books, and how to maintain ubiquity in an industry that’s being pushed toward silos.