A New Option to Sell and Buy Books by Jim McFarlane



We writers are inundated with tips on selling books. Let’s turn the equation around.

For every book sold, there is a book purchased, and a book purchase requires three steps: discovery, conversion, and order fulfillment.

How does a potential purchaser discover that a particular book exists?

What persuades a potential customer to decide a buy a particular book?

How easily can the decision to buy be fulfilled?

Recently a respected company that reviews books has expanded its business model with a new plan to assist people (mostly bookstores and libraries) to buy independently produced books by combining their critical reviews with a wider distribution of information and a convenient method of purchase.

Here is the press release:

IndieReader, the consumer guide to self-published books and their authors, has launched IndieReader In-Store (IRIS), which helps self-published authors to get their titles on Edelweiss. The cost to indie authors is $399 per title and includes an IndieReader book review that will accompany the title in the Edelweiss database. The fee also includes entry in the Edelweiss Digital Review Copy (DRC) module. Similar in function to NetGalley, this is a secure, controlled way for authors to share their DRCs with reviewers, bloggers, librarians, media, booksellers, wholesalers, etc. Additional services, including various forms of bookstore outreach, are available for additional fees.”

IndieReader reviews have been available for years. For a fee of about $150, a professional reviewer provides a summary of the book and a brutally honest evaluation. One star equals rubbish. Two stars is a book you should avoid. A three-star book has major flaws (which are listed) but might be interesting to some readers, whereas four stars describe good books with minor flaws (including many best-sellers). Five-star books earn glowing reviews equivalent to the blurbs that book publicists are paid to write about two-star books.

Edelweiss, which most of you have never heard of, is a database of book information. Publishers enter into Edelweiss their seasonal catalogues of books, blurbs, and digital review copies. Then bookstores, libraries, and reviewers (such as me, as a book reviewer for my daughter’s bookstore Fiction Addiction) search for interesting books, request advanced reading copies (either in print or digital format), enter feedback (public or private), and order books.

Thus, the process is

  1. An independent author submits information about book and author, a digital copy, and one-time fee of $399 (plus annual $25 renewal fee later) to IndieReader website .
  2. A professional reviewer evaluates the book and writes an honest and critical review.
  3. IndieReader In-Store creates catalogues (probably weekly) of several independent books (such as yours) with author blurb, their review, and your digital copy and submits the catalogue into Edelweiss, just like the big publishers do.
  4. Bookstores and libraries peruse the various catalogues, request free digital review copies, and perhaps order one or more paperback copies of your book.
  5. IndieReader In-Store accepts the order, prints the books (on demand), ships (via Ingram) to the bookstore or library, and invoices the customer.
  6. If the customer pays IndieReader In-Store, the author eventually gets paid (their example is $12.95 retail, $5.18 wholesale to Ingram and $3.60 printing costs leaving $1.58 to author).
  7. However, if the bookstore returns the book (after 90 days), then the author reimburses the Ingram cost (example $5.18) and has an option to pay $2 more (in addition to $5.18) to have the unsold book shipped to author instead of being destroyed.


Note: Don’t confuse IndieReader In-Store with IndieReader Selects, which is cheaper but doesn’t include listing in Edelweiss.

I’m thinking about participating with my novel Penelope, which I printed myself two years ago and sell slowly to a niche market.

The IndieReader In-Store (IRIS) program addresses the discoverability, conversion (if I get a good review), and selling process. And it provides an economical way to get the book into independent bookstores. I would have to sell over 200 books (to an audience of 37,000 Edelweiss book professionals) through IRIS to break even. The $7.18 cost for a returned book is manageable (if you have a local sales outlet for printed copies) because $7.18 is slightly less than the wholesale price (40% discount) to a local bookstore but much more than the unit cost when I print 250 copies at a time.

The data stays in Edelweiss for a long time but my concern is how long will bookstores (busy; short attention span; always looking for next best seller) pay attention to my listing. I will need to compose my IndieReader blurb to optimize Edelweiss search function.

What do you think? Is this more effective than expanded distribution at Create Space? Is it worth $399?

More details:

Indiereader at http://indiereader.com/

IndieReader publishing services (which strangely don’t mention IRIS) at http://indiereader.com/about/indiereader-now-offering-publishing-services/

Edelweiss at http://abovethetreeline.com/edelweiss/

Review at http://www.kboards.com/index.php?topic=165017.0



For more on Jim McFarlane and his writing, visit his website at www.jim-mcfarlane.com.

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2 Responses to A New Option to Sell and Buy Books by Jim McFarlane

  1. Teresa Burgher says:

    Very interesting but complicated. I’ll have to read this a few times and digest the opportunity and risks. How do you keep it all straight?

  2. Jim McFarlane says:

    Here is an FAQ from IndieReader copied from Shelf Awareness:

    Having trouble getting your self-pubbed books into indie bookstores nationwide? Meet IndieReader In-Store (IRIS)
    Q: What is IRIS?
    A: IRIS is a non-exclusive distribution service from indie (author) to indie (booksellers) via Ingram Wholesale
    (IW). If your book is not available via IW, IR Publishing Services can walk you through the process or handle for an add’l fee.
    Q: What makes IRIS different than the service I get from other distributors?
    A: Brick and mortar booksellers require that books be returnable and available at a 40% discount. No other indies-only distributor makes that happen.
    Q: How does Edelweiss work?
    A: Until recently, booksellers would look through paper catalogs. Then Edelweiss came along and made the process electronic. IRIS is also a partnership publisher with the American Book Association, allowing us to participate in direct outreach to ABA member store’s decision-makers.
    Q. How will booksellers find my book?
    A. IRIS is the only branded indie book resource available on Edelweiss, with listings that include an IR Review, a Digital Review Copy (DRC) and a GoodReads rating. So we’re really offering booksellers a lot of info on books that they’re excited to carry but haven’t been able to take a chance on.
    “I love this idea very much and want to utilize it completely. We’ve had an indie section since we opened 2 years ago, but it hasn’t been very diverse since I cannot review everything that comes my way…I definitely believe this service will go a long way to getting these selections properly reviewed and on bookstore shelves.”
    – Tony, Cape Atlantic Book Company
    Q: Will everyone who pays be included in IRIS? Or only 4 and 5 star reviewed books?
    A. Since a book’s quality is subjective (ie 50 Shades of Grey), IRIS will not exclude any titles/authors.
    Q. What if every bookstore who buys a copy then returns it? Can I actually lose money?
    A. We suggesting that authors put their royalties into an escrow account until after the store’s 90 day return period.
    Q. How much does it cost to participate?
    A. The cost of listing via IndieReader In-Store is $399.00/year.
    Q: How can I sign up?
    A: Go to the IndieReader and look for the IRIS ad.
    Q. More questions?
    A. Contact Amy at amy@indiereader.com for a thorough FAQ.
    ** Launch Covered By **
    Publisher’s Lunch, Shelf Awareness and Bookselling this Week

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