How to Sell Print Books via High Street Bookshops

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Julia Forster and me, just after a local bookshop had agreed to stock these books in December

Many self-published authors bypass the print route altogether, preferring to issue their books only as ebooks, which is quicker, cheaper and less technically demanding. However, it’s received wisdom that even if the ebook market is your primary goal, you’ll also sell more books OF BOTH KINDS if you also make available a print copy.

First, Print Your Books

With modern print-on-demand technology having done away with high minimum print runs, you no longer need to fill your spare bedroom with boxes of paperbacks while you find a way to sell them – you just load the your files on to one of the popular distribution platforms such as Amazon’s CreateSpace and call off the orders as you need them, in as small quantities as you require. However, many high street bookshops or bricks-and-mortar bookstores (as they’re known in the trade) refuse to stock print copies produced by what they perceive, with good reason, to be a ruthless competitor, so it’s worth also getting either a short print run down by a book printing specialist or by Ingram, via their Ingram Spark or Lightning Source services, so that you can present books that don’t say “Printed by Amazon”.

Top Tips on Dealing with Bookshops

Opening Up To Indie Authors cover

Building a better relationship with bookshops is just one of the topics covered by this book, which also discusses litfests, ibraries, awards and membership organisations.

Having print books available is one thing – but getting shops to order them is quite another. Too many indie authors go about it the wrong way and are disappointed, hurt or angry when their local bookshop refuses to stock their books.

But there is a better way – and it’s too complex a topic to cover in depth within a single blog post. That’s why I’ve co-authored a book called Opening Up To Indie Authors for the Alliance of Independent Authors, and why I’m helping to lead a new campaign that will be launched later this year to help authors build better relationships with bookstore proprietors, and to help independent bookshops retain their place on the high street, where they are fast becoming an endangered species.

The ebook is available to order from the Alliance of Independent Authors, via the shop page on their Author Advice Blog, of which I’m Commissioning Editor, and in print from Amazon – or order a copy via your local bookshop!

Listen to My Interview about Bookshops

In the meantime, you may like to listen to me chatting about the book and sharing its key points with leading authorpreneur Joanna Penn, who interviewed me on her excellent Creative Penn this week.

As will all her excellent podcasts, Joanna Penn has made our lively and informative interview available as both a video via YouTube and a podcast, accessible on her blog. You’ll find the links below. So grab a coffee, put your feet up, and share our collective knowledge – I’m sure you’ll find it really helpful in building your relationship with your local high street bookshops.


To watch the video on YouTube, click here:

To read a summary of the key points and listen to the audio podcast, click here:

With thanks to the ever-inspiring Joanna Penn, an excellent role model for all indie authors and authorpreneurs.

For More Top Tips Like This

To receive my new monthly Off The Shelf newsletter for authors, just sign up here.

Any Questions?

Please feel free to ask any questions about this post, or any other aspect of book promotion, via the comment box – I’ll be happy to answer them.

3 thoughts on “How to Sell Print Books via High Street Bookshops

  1. HI! Thanks for the invite for inquisitive minds. I am not sure how to “Print” one of my books on my own. I have a HP color printer but I don’t know how to do anything fancy with it at all. Any tips or instructions would be helpful. All my books that I self published were printed through Amazon. My other book that was published by another company printed it for me too. Thank you!

    • Hi Kimi, and thanks for the question. I’m not sure why you would want to actually print one of your books at home on your HP color printer. If you have self-published print books via Amazon’s CreateSpace service, you can, via the author dashboard, print off copies of the book at cost price, rather than the listed selling price, that you can then hand-sell to bookshops, etc. Or better still, upload the same files to Ingram Spark, from whom bookshops can order your books direct, if they want to. (You then need to make the bookshops want to order them, or course – they won’t just order them because they can!) Alternatively you can get a short print run done economically by a local specialist book printer, again using the same files that were uploaded to CreateSpace. Shop around to find a good deal – prices will vary hugely. I hope that helps, but if you still have questions, don’t hesitate to ask! Best wishes, Debbie

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