Retail bookstores are changing with the times. Departing are bookstores that seem to sell everything but books. Arriving are bookstores offering unique experiences and friendly atmospheres while also recognizing the new age of indie author publishing and print-on-demand books.
Shakespeare and Co. is owned by Dane Neller, one of the founders of the Espresso Book Machine and former CEO of Dean and DeLuca, an upscale grocery chain founded in New York. What he and his team have done with their bookstore prototype shows they understand the critical importance of building community in achieving retail success — especially in our lonely age of the internet.
The café as you enter feels like a Dean and DeLuca, with lots of great drinks and food. It was packed on the day I visited and Neller told me they typically serve 400 customers a day in the café alone. The coffee is the lure that brings people in. It’s not set off to the side or in the back. It’s facing the street.
Just beyond the café is the core component of this new vision for the bookstore and its unique ability for creating community: the Espresso Book Machine. Unlike most other bookstores featuring a machine, Shakespeare and Co.’s is right in the heart of the store. It draws curiosity because EBMs are one of the few new things happening in book retailing, which on the whole feels stale to me. Customers are drawn to the machine and are able to watch books being printed on demand. EBM-printed books are also on display and interspersed among traditionally published titles on the main bookshelves.
What this says to customers is, your book could be here too. So the shelves are in fact creating new business for the machine and the store. This works well for a local indie bookseller, as a self-published author living nearby could realistically buy and sell ten copies on her own
The impact of these print-on-demand machines in the stores is far-reaching, especially for authors. Once your book is in the Espresso Network, it will not go out of print. Preprinted books are a huge gamble for all involved, where you roll the dice and overstock inventories only to make returns that force the book to be declared prematurely out of print and eventually carted off in bins for remaindering.
Link to the rest at BookBusiness
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