Thursday, June 23, 2011

Four Reasons I Don't Think Bookstores Should Charge For Author Events [You're The Expert]

I just read this article in The New York Times talking about how bookstores are charging to get into author events.  Some are requiring a book purchase and some are just straight up charging five bucks so that you can get in to see the author.

See, these bookstores are tired of being used as an "Amazon show room."  They're sick and tired of people coming to the store, listening to the presentation, then buying the book from their phone while they're in the audience.

I agree.  That's lame.  Support the store if you're going to show up at the event.

Changing Hands, my local Indie, does tickets for the larger events.  Tickets give the people who purchase a book an edge over those who don't.  They get primo seats, and the privilege of going through the signing line first.  And those who buy first, get a higher lettered ticket.  But the events remain open to the public.  And I think that's a smart way to do it.  Don't exclude anyone, but give preference to your customers.  That makes sense to me.  But charging a flat fee or a book purchase for entrance doesn't.

I guess I'd be mad about people using me as a test drive too, but there are several reasons why I don't think bookstores should charge for author events:

1) Author events are not concerts.  You get a preview, not the whole shebang. I might hear the author and decide I really don't want to buy their book.  It's happened before.  I've showed up to author events, not liked what I've heard, and not purchased the book.
2) I might have already purchased the book elsewhere.  Living in Arizona, we don't see a ton of book launches.  So, if there are titles that I've purchased online from Borders or Amazon, and the author comes six months later, or a year later, and I want to see the author, I'd be S.O.L.  It's horribly inconvenient for me to go to Changing Hands every time I want to buy a book, so I only generally buy something when I'm going for an author event, or a sale, or I'm in the neighborhood.
3) I usually buy something when I go in, even if it's not the author's book who is reading.  A lot of the time I purchase other books or novelties when I go into the store.  Sometimes, I even order books they don't have in stock that the author has recommended or written.  And other times, I'll buy a second copy of a book that I already bought online so that I can a) support the Indie, and b) have a fabulous giveaway.
4) Not everyone can afford to pay to see an author event.  I realize that these cost the bookstore money.  I do.  And I realize that they bring authors in so that people will buy the books.  But, authors do it to promote themselves.  And if you deny the promotion, or start charging for the marketing, you create a yucky, icky precedent.  If they have to pay for the event, a lot of the time, they won't be able to afford the book.  Not to mention we'd lose a little more of our culture that I personally think we can't afford to lose.

Now, those are my reasons that I think that author events should remain free, not free with purchase.  Is it tacky to go to an event and not buy something?  No.  It's a fact of life.  It happens.  But, those of us who value our Indies realize that's how they stay afloat, and we support them any way we can.  But, I want to know what you guys think.  You're the expert on that brain of yours and its opinions, afterall.

For those of you not familiar with You're The Expert here at I Heart Monster, it's a type of post where we share some information with you, then ask you what you think about that information.  We encourage you to leave your opinion or answers in the comments section, and even write your own post as an answer if you are so inclined.  See, we're all different, and we all have different experiences, and that's part of what makes the blogosphere such a fun place - we're all experts about what we think and how we feel and our particular view on the world.  This is just a forum for you to share those with the rest of us.  If you do write a post, we'd love it if you share the link with us.