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Preorders, Why They Matter So Much

A Stack of Books

See this enormous stack of books? This was my haul from attending a bookseller's conference last year. I had multiple tote bags filled to the brim with books from publishing reps wanting me to check-out their upcoming offerings.

The truth is there are so many books being published that it is impossible for any bookseller or even a store full of booksellers, to read everything that's out there. In a good year, I read about a hundred books. I'm not a book buyer for the indie bookstore where I work, yet as a bookseller, I do have influence. If I read an ARC ( Advance Read Copy) that I really enjoy, and think that I can sell, I can request that it be bought for our store. Booksellers become champions for the titles that they love.

However, I am increasingly seeing that there are many wonderful books that our store does not decide to carry. We have limited space and a limited budget. We can order books for customer's who request them, but not everything will make it to our shelves as a general offering.

This is where I want to talk to you about preorders and why they matter so much. In the Sept/Oct 2023 issue of Poets & Writers Magazine, Michael Bourne offers a great article on the subject. Bourne explains how increasingly authors are responsible for large chunks of their own marketing, which can be daunting for a lesser known author, especially if they don't have a strong social media presence.

If an author can gain traction with preorders it serves to show that there is interest in their work, which can be a tipping point for smaller stores to decide to carry their book over another coming out at the same time. A strong preorder campaign could also influence the publisher to increase their first run order. Early success with preorders can snowball into greater success.

Every preorder counts. If you know that you're going to buy it, preorder if possible. Follow your favorite authors on social media and be alerted to their upcoming publication dates. Support a friend who is an author, by shopping early. If you read about an upcoming book that appeals to you, take a chance and preorder it. Coworkers at my bookstore recently came up with a creative way to showcase upcoming preorders. They took an entire bookcase and set up pictures of the covers of upcoming preorders with the release dates. This is serving to make customers aware of upcoming books and they are asking about them. It helps our store with sales, but also helps the authors with their presale counts.

I realize that this is a topic that many book lovers don't really think about, however, how you shop can make a difference.

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