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Indies Working with Indies: Self-Pubs and Mom-and-Pops Look to Build Ties

As we reported last week, Amazon’s subscription service Kindle Unlimited can’t quite make it pay for indie writers. Can new brick-and-mortar models provide better opportunities? Gulf Coast Bookstore in Fort Myers, Florida could be pointing a way forward. The shop, opened by two self-published authors, will exclusively sell books by fellow indie writers, reported Publishers Weekly. One of the proprietors told Publishers Weekly that a major motivation for opening the shop was the difficulty indie writers face when competing for mega-store shelf space with bestselling authors.

In addition to featuring self-published authors, Gulf Coast will also differentiate itself by operating on a very unconventional business model: the store will rent shelf space to local authors (three months for $60, plus a $15 set-up fee). In return, authors get to keep—wait for it—100% of every sale. Gulf Coast is in the unique position of being able to afford to give authors the full share of proceeds because it’s part of a group of shops whose proprietor takes care of sales reports and credit card processing. The shop also features its authors on its website and provides the space for book signings—it’s even considering whether to offer authors an e-commerce platform.

While Gulf Coast’s model certainly isn’t replicable by many other brick-and-mortars, small bookshops across the country are finding their own ways to partner with indie authors. “Many independent bookstores are working with self-published authors every day,” said Joy Dellanegra-Sanger, Senior Program Officer of the American Booksellers Association, “and many are experimenting with different business models,” such as selling indie authors’ books on consignment. As indies continue to partner with indies, we hope to see more business models facilitating small-scale author-to-reader engagement. After all, it’s one of the things brick-and-mortars do best.