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Sell Books in Bookstores

Hey there! Welcome to this blog with an overview of selling books offline. 

This blog is actually part one of selling offline. In this blog, I will be talking about offline locations, delivery options, and ordering author copies. 

There are quite a few available options for selling books offline. First off, books can be sold in stores. Of course, many people think of bookstores for selling books, but there are quite a few other alternatives as well. Themed stores may be a good option for some authors. Other options include gift or souvenir shops and consignment shops. I will talk more about considerations when going through consignment shops in the next blog. Other possible offline locations include airports, cruise lines, and state and national parks. Selling at these locations is also beneficial if your book matches the theme of flying, going on a cruise, or visiting parks. Authors can also try to get their books into libraries, schools, and educational retailers. 

And additional offline locations may include waiting rooms or offices of doctors, therapists, dentists, and hospitals. Of course, it would be nice if these places purchased your books to put into their waiting room or offices, but some authors may choose to donate their books to these locations in the hope that someone will see the book and like it so much that they will want to buy their own copy. You may also be able to sell books at various events such as speaking events, launch parties, school visits, or through themed festivals. 

Before you even reach out to the various offline places, though, you should have an idea of how those books will be delivered to those locations. Having copies on hand may be a good way to sell books in-person such as at the various events, markets, festivals, or other things you attend. 

It’s also helpful to have books available to show in person to various retailers or while out and about. For example, if you are trying to get a store to carry your book, then you may want to go to the store’s manager with a copy of your book to show to them, so they can assess the quality of the book in person. Here are some considerations for offline retailers. First off, what retailers would be the best fit for your book? 

Also, how much of a discount can you give? Is it possible to offer 30 to 60% off the SRP, which stands for the suggested retail price? The suggested retail price is the price that the book would sell for at a normal price you may have set for it. A book with a retail price of ₹195 then could be available on places such as Amazon for ₹195 If you were to offer a 60% discount on that book, that means the book would be available for ₹78 to the retailer. Obviously if it cost more than ₹78 to print and ship the book, then you would not be able to offer a 60% discount on that book. That same book with a retail price of  ₹195 with a 30% discount would be available for  ₹ 117 to the retailer. Obviously going from a 60% discount to a 30% discount, in this case then, is a difference of  ₹39. When determining how much of a discount you can give, you have to factor in the cost to print the book, the cost to ship the book, any additional fees you may have, and how much of a profit you intend to make off of the book. 

Once the retailer buys that book from you, they can choose to sell them for whatever price they want or give them away if they desire. Another consideration is whether or not you would allow the books to be returnable. If you do choose to allow your books to be returnable, who will pay the shipping costs to return them? And will the books simply be returned for resale, or would they be destroyed if they are returned? I have heard many authors say that books must be returnable in order to sell them in stores, but having them be returnable is scary, so never allow your books to be returnable. Obviously, if you are a store owner, it is less risky to buy books that you know you can return if they don’t sell, so authors who allow returnable books may have a better chance of getting into stores, but then they really do have to be careful and factor in the cost of the printing and shipping of all of those books that do get returned. I once heard an author say that she had a bookstore that had purchased quite a few books through a distributor, which provided her with a good sized profit, however she had allowed the books to be returnable and they did not sell all of the books and ended up returning a small number of them. In the end, she ended up with less than a dollar in profit as a result of the cost for all of the books that had been returned. 

Some stores may allow authors to sell books on consignment. This means that the store does not purchase the books up front. Instead, the author only makes money once the book sells. Typically the store keeps an agreed upon portion of the book sales. That way they are (always, they are) also making money while keeping your book at their store. Before selling through consignment, you may want to consider a few things. For example when and how will you be paid? Will you be paid whenever you go in and you have had sales? Will you be paid weekly, monthly, quarterly? And how will you be paid? So, will they actually pay you in cash, or will they only give you a store credit so you can buy other things within the store? 

Another question to consider is is there a set time frame that the store will allow your book to be (sale) for sale there? Are they only going to allow you to have it there for a month? Are they going to let you have it there for six months? What is the time frame that they would allow you to have it there? And what happens if a book gets wrecked while it’s in the store? Who is responsible for the cost of the book that was damaged? Also, if you happen to sell all of the books that you have dropped off, will they allow you to bring in more books?

I know libraries may only buy one copy and then share it with many people, but if those people that are checking out the book really like it, they may end up buying a copy for themselves or for someone else. So, another place to sell books to then is to libraries. Selling to libraries is one way to get your book or your message into many hands of people who may not have heard of your book otherwise. So, when getting into a library, you will have to consider the actual product itself. Is your book comparable in size to other books it will be shelved next to? What about the binding? Most libraries will not accept softcover picture books because they do not last as long as the hardcover editions. Also, make sure it is edited well and looks good. The ISBN didn’t matter as much as the quality and demand for the book. So, in order to get books into libraries, it is helpful to check the library requirements. Some libraries do not allow self-published books, but others may. It may be helpful to start local and then expand from there. That way the local ones you may actually be able to go into the library and talk to them and as you expand and contact them.

Well, that’s it for this blog. In the next blog, , I will be talking about an overview of book launches or launch

Until then, may you have a wonderful day!

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