This wasn’t what I intended to write. I had planned a whole thing about the books I love which appeal to my inner 10- to 14-year-old boy. But, then I started noticing something on my social media feeds: Authors, some of whom had close ties to the independent bookselling community, were almost exclusively linking to A****n in their book announcement/pre-order posts. And, somehow, I found the nerve, the courage, the backbone to start calling them on it. Politely, of course. But I’ve started asking authors to change, to link to IndieBound instead of A****n (or at least in addition to), and it’s working. I’m not an activist. I’m not a leader nor a joiner. I am not an owner or manager. I am not on any boards or committees. But I am a bookseller who loves what she does and wants our industry to survive and thrive and I have found a small, easy way in which I can make a difference.
But, I am only one bookseller. I can only reach so far. I need my fellow booksellers to join me. It’s easy, I swear. It won’t take much time, and you don’t even have to interact face-to-face with anyone. (Unless you want to. I mean, if you’re bolder than I and can bring this up live and in-person, then you have my respect in addition to my thanks.) I’ll even give you a “script” to follow; just fill in the blanks Mad Libs-style to suit the situation.
When you see an author you follow on social media (or whose newsletter you receive or whose website you visit or whatever) post a book announcement with a sales or pre-order link only to A****n, reach out to them with some version of the following:
Hi. [Compliment], but as an independent bookseller and because [author connection to indie bookselling here], I was hoping you would consider linking to IndieBound, rather than A****n. [IndieBound link to book in question here]
When you’ve filled in the blanks, it should read something like this:
Hi. I love your work and love introducing it to new readers, but as an independent bookseller and because enjoyed seeing you speak at our Fall trade show, I was hoping you would consider linking to @IndieBound rather than A****n. https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780545790352
It’s that easy. Then you just wait for the “Done.” Of course, it may not come. 95% of the time it will, though, and then you say “thank you” just as politely.
In this way–book by book, author by author–we who don’t see ourselves as advocates can, indeed, advocate for our stores and those of our peers. We can change authors’ defaults or at least make them think twice before automatically linking to A****n. By doing so, maybe we can also change consumers’ defaults. If every time they click on a pre-order link for an author they love it leads them to IndieBound, they may start going to IndieBound first when they’re looking for something because that’s where their favorite authors have been directing them.
But we need more than just one or two of us to do this. We need to be big. We need to be a movement. We need many voices to speak up. We need to be a choir, singing loudly and in harmony if we want to drown out the persistent earworm that is A****n. We need us all.
Billie Bloebaum works at Third Street Books and really wishes we didn’t keep having to have this conversation with authors, especially those who appear at our trade shows and conferences and do events in our stores. But, alas…