Are you in for an indie e-reader? According to a recent Publishers Weekly article, the American Booksellers Association is looking into developing an e-reader to compete with Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook. To keep up with the same features the larger chains offer through eBook downloads, independent bookstores would offer eBooks through venues including the Google ebookstore.
For consumers, this makes sense — an e-reader that caters to people who want to support independent booksellers while also purchasing eBooks. This would also help self-publishers diversify their distribution. If a writer wanted to support independent bookstores through the sale of their book, now they would have a choice to do that, instead of having to sell it through Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
“Reading Local” is what independent booksellers hope to emphasize over the next few months, as they begin to look into increasing sales of eBooks. As one bookseller put it, “This idea [Reading Local] came from listening to people tell me that you can’t buy eBooks locally. Last year, 28% of our sales were eBooks.”
Whether an indie e-reader will be enough of an incentive to get consumers to “read local” is a source of skepticism for some store-owners, but there’s also hope such a device could level the playing field. Often, when buying a device such as the Kindle, a reader will only use Amazon to buy their books, even though independent booksellers sell books compatible with the Kindle through their own stores. An indie e-reader would ensure all electronic bookstores would be equally convenient, allowing a more persuasive argument to be made to “read local.”
Self-publishers can even target a release to help support a single bookstore by only offering it through that bookstore’s site. Think what a boon it would be if a successful self-publisher only sold through their local store — it would strengthen the connection between writer and community, while also stressing the author’s region and identity.
Still, independent booksellers are a long way off from developing a competitor to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple. Even so, bookstore owners seem to agree that the indie e-reader would be a smart business innovation. As one bookseller put it, “I remain convinced that there is room in the market for such a device. I believe that indie bookstores need such a device in order to properly formulate an effective e-book strategy by closing the loop with their customers.”
So, are you in?