Thursday, July 14, 2005

Ordering PODs from your independent bookstore (a horror story)

"And your book will be available in 25,000 bookstores!" Every POD company boasts this wonderful hyperbole as a sales pitch. My book isn't available in 25,000 bookstores, nor is any other Penguin Putnam title. In fact, I can guarantee that no book is in every bookstore across the country at the same time.

Of course, what they mean is that the book can be purchased through any of these 25,000 bookstores; someone has to special-order it.

The question is . . . will they?

After a brief email correspondence with author Shelly Rivoli, she told me a story that should bring home some reality for any potential PODer. She agreed to let me excerpt it here.

"You reminded me of the time my own sweet mother was trying to help my efforts by special ordering my book through a particular bookstore at the same time I sent them a sample copy & info, and a pitch for a reading. They kept insisting it was a real nuisance for them to order such a book for her (imagine), even though she offered to pay up front, telling them what great things some friends had said about the book. They even told her it would probably be easier for everyone if she just ordered it from Amazon, but she explained she prefers to support independents. She called two weeks later wondering about the status of her special order. Somehow it never went through. But the clerk told her, 'Wait a minute... yeah, we've got a copy of it here in the store for 50 cents--should I hold it for you?'"

Pathetic (especially since it was an independent--customer service and knowledge is the only reason to go to one and pay full price.)

POD pretty much equates to online sales only. And until those magic in-store printers are available, this is likely to be the way it is.