Consider this an open letter to the top earning authors out there.
Dear Very Rich Authors,
Last week I had an interview back in the village I grew up in. I’d been back a few times since I left, mostly around the holidays and so, I hadn’t really taken much notice of the shops. Going back last week though, I walked along the rows of shops and past the local bookshop, only to find that it had closed down.
That’s the place I first bought a book from with my own money. Even the first place I ever bought a comic book. And it no longer exists.
People put the blame on a lot of things. Supermarkets selling cheap books, Waterstones with offers and a good selection, Amazon slashing prices and probably not paying tax. But you know what people aren’t doing? Providing solutions.
So there’s things like Books are My Bag. But really what is the point in it? A fancy tote bag? A kind of cool in a nerdy way slogan? But it’s not driving new people into bookstores, and it’s not getting people who don’t already go to indie shops, to go there. It’s a redundant exercise.
But you know what? You guys, you top earners you, could save them. Let’s face it, you earn enough money from us lot buying your books (even at £3.99 from Sainsbury’s) that perhaps you could give something back. James Patterson does.
So here’s what I propose:
The top earning authors should each purchase a bookshop and hand it over to a willing team of people in whichever town or city they do it in.
The bookstore will have the author’s name prominently displayed on the top (JK Rowling’s Books) and this should feature heavily in the marketing.
There are caveats that I’m sure I haven’t considered, I’m not particularly business minded. But I do know, the kind of pull that celebrity names have. Shops and restaurants owned by big names always do well, people buy into names and brands, and will likely pay more (or equal) to shop there.
If it pays off, there’ll be a whole new group of independent, author led bookstores. It’s already being done in comics, with Mark Waid recently opening up a comic book shop.
I’d be very interested to hear what you think about the idea. Let me know in the comments!