Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Do Bloggers Sell Books?

There's been a lot of talk lately about the good vs. bad of book blogging, and I have to say that it's made me sit back and think about why I started blogging, what I mean to accomplish, and what kind of effect (if any) my blog has on readers. It appears there are industry professionals who believe bloggers don't sell books. They are certainly entitled to that opinion because they're probably right. I'm sure many bloggers don't sell a single book, but I bet a lot of them do.

I know because I'm one of them.

One of my greatest strokes of luck since I began blogging - and I truly believe it was sheer luck - was being approached by my local indie bookseller. They found my blog, liked what they saw, realized I was local, and said, "Hey, we should team up!"

Since partnering with Cavalier House Books I've had the opportunity to participate in their school book fairs. I spent two days back in November talking to high school kids about books. It was amazing. I'm sure the majority of kids who bought books those two days would have made their purchases regardless of my being there, but there were several who actually took my recommendations.

There was one kid whose friend was obviously a bookworm, and she picked up several books while he just stood there watching her. I asked him if he read, and he said he didn't like to but thought it was because he never found the right book. I pointed him over to John Green telling him it may be a good place to start. The friend then told me - and I'm sure this will embarrass him to no end if he reads this - that he and his girlfriend had just broken up so she was trying to help him find something that might make him feel better. I told him to go with An Abundance of Katherines (because it seemed fitting), and I said I was so sure he would like it I'd buy it back from him if he didn't. True to my word, I'm happy to refund his purchase. Except I haven't heard back ;)

There were several highlights from that day, but that one kid was my favorite. I hand-sold several books including every copy we had of Before I Fall and nine If I Stays, but I'm most proud of that one John Green. I really hope Colin speaks to that guy the way he spoke to me.

Another dream-come-true has been my display. CHB has graciously given me a space inside their bookstore to showcase some of my favorite books. And I don't know how many people pay attention to the title of the display or what John and Michelle tell them about me, or if they ever even visit this blog. But it gets their attention, and the books sell. And the books are constantly changing. The display features new titles, old titles, whatever I want people to notice. One of the last times I checked on it Michelle told me a girl stopped in front of the display, picked up Boy Meets Boy, and left the store with it clutched to her chest. Picturing that literally brings tears to my eyes. I love knowing that someone else is getting to experience the wonder of David Levithan's writing because of me. Sure she may already be a fan. Maybe she's even read it and just wanted her own copy. Or maybe the cover caught her eye, and had it not been right in front of her she may have glanced over it and missed out on the beauty of Paul's story.

As a book blogger, I know I don't have much push or pull when it comes to book sales. In the immense world that is the internet, I play an infinitesimally small role. However, regardless of the influence I have, I will always, first and foremost support literacy, and one of the ways I do that is by supporting the books and authors I love. I will always read, I will always buy, and I will always recommend. So it may not mean a whole lot to John Green himself, but selling that one copy of An Abundance of Katherines means the world to me.

12 comments:

  1. What an awesome post! It made me so happy! I love that you have your own little display. :-D

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  2. This makes me want to know you so much better. I'm doing a big happy dance for you inside. We convert them one reader at a time, and it's especially thrilling to see that fire ignite for the first time. That's one of the fun things about working with kids.

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  3. Thanks for sharing your story! It's inspiring. Keep up the good work!

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  4. Wow! You've managed to take your passion and find a way to positively impact others with it. Honestly, that's what most people search their entire lives for. I'm so impressed with your story.
    Teaming up with the local indie store is amazing! You're own display and everything! You're an inspiration.
    Keep up the great work and thanks for all the help you give authors and their stories.

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  5. This is so inspiring. Helping people find books is one of the best feelings in the world for me, and it's nice to know I'm not the only one! Keep up the book evangelism! ;D

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  6. Not only have I bought books based on blogger recommendations but I keep a "must read" list for great-sounding books that other bloggers have bragged about (and I want to acquire my own copy soon as I get through my current TBR pile.)

    I'm one example where blogs definitely sell books! As a book reviewer myself, I've been doing a lot of self analysis. I just this week did away with the five star rating system because I decided it's not my job to GRADE other authors. I merely talk about the book, give quotations, provide warnings for anyone who might be sensitive about erotica, etc., and admit how much I liked the book.

    I never felt good when I gave out fewer than four stars ... I'm just not going to do it on my blog (not any more).

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  7. Bloggers definitely sell books! The best way to sell a book is to be able to give an earnest recommendation....blogging is essentially e-handselling. Also, your display in our store does very well and there have been several instances when a person has purchased a book from your display and come back to get another book from your display simply because they were impressed by your recommendation.

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  8. I'm so proud to call you my friend.

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  9. It does indeed mean a lot to John Green himself. :) Thanks!

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  10. It fills me with joy to see a blogger who cares so much about books and spreading the word about those books. Thank you so much for sharing your story! Bloggers like you make me proud to be part of this community. :)

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  11. I love recommending books to people. I think bloggers TOTALLY sell books and we love doing it! That's pretty awesome that you teamed up with a local indie store too cause it just spreads the word about books even further. :)

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  12. Love that you sell books. Great job.

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