Now You Can Buy Ebooks AND Support Your Local Independent Bookstore
Most people still read paper-based books, but the number of ebooks read is growing every year, and the number of people who say they mostly buy ebooks also growing. I heard a recent statistic that says 75% of book sales are for paper/hardbound. In early 2014, Amazon announced that ebooks made up 30% of its book sales. Barnes & Noble doesn't like to talk about it, apparently, because I can't find articles that talk about trends they're seeing.
I'm one of the converts to ebooks and ereaders, especially for fiction. Whereas I still love the kinesthetic feel of books, I love even more the ability to carry 500 of them around in one little device, instead of having to lug around an extra suitcase on vacation just for the books. The side effect of this, however, is that I just don't spend as much time and money in my local bookstores. I'm not alone, which is why bookstores, already on thin margins, are struggling.
Up until I went to the annual Northern Colorado Writers Conference a couple of days ago, I thought my favorite independent bookstores, such as Old Firehouse Books in Fort Collins, or The Tattered Cover in Denver, were left out of the ebook paradigm shift. B&N has the Nook (however shamefully they neglect it and its users), and Amazon doesn't partner with anyone because they're the 800-pound gorilla.
Smart, Upstart eBook Seller Partners with Independent Bookstores
First, a disclaimer: I have no relationship with either independent bookstores or ebook retailers, other than the fact that I adore the former and sell ebooks through the latter. Oh, and I just met Mark Lefebvre, Director of Self Publishing and Author Relations at Kobo at NCW Conference.
Kobo makes ereaders, and they sell digital content. The were a plucky Canadian company that was bought by Rakuten, a Japanese global internet commerce company that also owns a big share of Pinterest. If you live in the U.S., you may not have heard of Kobo, but if you live anywhere else in the world (hello, Canada, Japan, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, for example), it's a big player. Their ereaders are cool—they even have one that's water-resistant, for people who read in the bathtub, or near pools or large bodies of water. Their digital content isn't as extensive as the ‘Zon, but it's growing.
Kobo has an affiliate program for independent bookstores. Buy a Kobo e-reader and register it through the bookstore, and your independent bookstore shares in the profit. Buy ebooks through your registered Kobo, and your favorite bookstore gets a cut. So when you hear about a great new book from the bookstore employee, you can proudly buy it for your ereader, knowing you're supporting the local business you love.
Check out the Indie Bound website for a list of independent bookstore members of the American Booksellers Association who are in the Kobo program: http://www.indiebound.org/ebooks.