Selling Ebooks – How Indie Booksellers Can Compete

As a Smashwords ebook author and publisher and an independent bookstore owner, I have been concerned about the direction ebooks are taking us. At times I have been feeling like I was running a buggy whip  business while folks down the street had started to sell gasoline. How could I compete?

That has been the quandary for many independent bookstores. If they didn’t have a very expensive website with the American Booksellers Association on their system, they had no access to sell ebooks to their customers. That has changed with the advent of book distributor Baker & Taylor’s new service for independent bookstores who use them as their primary first-choice for book orders.

If you go to you will find a landing page similar to what you would find at Amazon, but easier to navigate. Halfway down the page you will find:

This will take you to an information page and also allow you to download an e-reader app onto your computer. When looking for books on the site’s search engine, if there is an ebook version available, it will show up along with the hardback version, the various audio versions, the reinforced library version, the trade paperback, and the mass market paperback. If you want the ebook, click on it to go into the shopping cart. It will give you a choice of formats. The rest is business as usual. Notice that we have built automatic discounts into what we offer through our site on Baker & Taylor. Oh, BTW, if you need to rent textbooks, click on that tab and perform your search. Once found, that goes into either the shopping cart or the rental cart, depending.

In addition to the ebooks for fees selections, you can also peruse GoogleBooks for their thousands of free open-source materials. I’ve downloaded eight free ebooks about Buffalo Bill Cody and Leavenworth’s history that I can use for research material in support of my historical performer gigs. These were written in the late 1800s and early 1900s and are no longer protected by copyright.

In all, this really levels the playing field for us. Anything bought through this site goes toward our bookstore’s account. In other words, we get our share. Now we have the ability to sell in two markets we’ve always wanted and didn’t have the ability to do so. This may prove the salvation of mom & pop stores like ours. We’re really grateful Baker & Taylor recognized the need and came up with a solution in which everybody wins.


This is a reprint from Bob’s Spear‘s Book Trends.