Publisher’s Weekly posted a story today on what Judith Rosen says is the first bookstore dedicated to self-published authors, but I think we’re looking at something else entirely.
Frustrated by a lack of opportunity to display and sell their work, self-published children’s author and illustrator Patti Brassard Jefferson and history author Timothy Jacobs decided to create a bookstore of their own, Gulf Coast Bookstore, and to only sell books by indie authors.
I’ve spent a few minutes looking over the Gulf Coast Bookstore website (it’s Flash-based, *claws*eyes*out) and I do believe that Rosen got it wrong.
I’ve read the about, FAQ, and other pages, and I downloaded the information packet PDF. From what I can see, this is a bookstore focused on _local_ authors, not just indie authors.
Statements like “the first local authors-only retail location of its kind in the area” in the info packet make it pretty clear where Gulf Coast is focusing its attention. The fact that the word local is mentioned a half dozen times on the website, while “self-published” is not mentioned at all, is another telling detail, and so is the signage posted over the bookshelves.
And then there’s the comment from Gulf Coast Bookstore:
The criteria is LOCAL but most of our 51 authors are self or indie published.
Sorry for being so obsessive on this point, folks, but I think it’s an important one.
Had this truly been a bookstore which only sold self-published titles, I would be shouting it from the rooftops. I would share the info on how authors elsewhere in the US could take part. And I would also find out how I could order books in order to show my support.
But this is really intended for local authors. All of the currently participating authors which I checked are indie authors of one stripe or another, and they are also all local to the area. I don’t know whether Gulf Coast Bookstore would refuse to accept a traditionally published author who lived in the area, but it is pretty clear that they want authors who are local to the Ft. Myers region.
Those who do get in have the option of renting one of a limited number of shelves. And I do mean limited:
Their books are displayed face out, and not with the spine showing, in order to better catch a reader’s attention. “You can judge a book by its cover or not,” Gulf Coast co-founder Patti Brassard Jefferson said. “But people do.”
Payment processing is handled by the landlord, The Butterfly Estates (a tourist destination). Authors make 100% of any books sold through Gulf Coast Bookstore, and they also have the option of using the space for book signings, readings, and other events.
That is a clever setup. It almost sounds like Gulf Coast has adapted the idea of a consignment shop and applied it to bookselling.
The label doesn’t quite fit, but I think it is a useful frame of reference, don’t you?
Update: My opinion has shifted somewhat. See my comment for an update.