In my blog post “3 Big Takeaways from Book Expo America”, I mentioned that “a startup called Zola Books has developed a user-friendly way to deal with the issue of ‘showrooming’—the term we use to describe what happens when a customer at a bricks-and-mortar bookstore looks over the titles on display and then orders a print or e-book copy from a web retailer, often for a lower price. Zola Books gives a bookseller a well-earned piece of the action for its part in making such sales.” Here is an explanation from their website that explains how their plan is coming along:
Support independent booksellers! We’re happy to announce the Indie Pledge – the opportunity for readers to buy eBooks on Zola while supporting their favorite independent bookseller – is now live on Zola Books. It’s still a work in progress, and at the moment our eBooks are readable only on iPads/iPhones, but we encourage readers to try it out by pledging to one of our test stores:
BayShore Books LLC, Oconto, WI
Book Passage, Corte Madera and San Francisco, CA
The Book Cellar, Chicago, IL
The Bookies, Denver, CO
BookPeople, Austin, TX
Brazos Bookstore, Houston, TX
Capitola Book Cafe, Capitola, CA
Chaucer’s Bookstore, Santa Barbara, CA
The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC
Cuppa Pulp Booksellers, Chestnut Ridge, NY
Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA
Gallery Bookshop, Mendocino, CA
Inkwood Books, Tampa, FL
Mysterious Bookshop, New York City, NY
Patti’s Book Nook, Gueydan, LA
Politics and Prose, Washington D.C.
Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MA
RiverRun Bookstore, Portsmouth, NH
St. Johns Booksellers, Portland, OR
Strand Book Store, New York, NY
Square Books, Oxford, MS
Third Place Books, Seattle, WA
WORD, Brooklyn, NY
Over the coming weeks we’ll be putting up many more eBooks for sale, and in a few months we’ll be able to make eBooks readable on any device – computer, tablet, or phone. But for now we are excited to partner with booksellers in building a site for booklovers eager to connect in a vibrant, independent community. Let us know what you think at email@example.com, since we’ll be improving and refining the pledge process even as we add functionality.
The way this “pledge” idea works is that you declare yourself to be a regular customer of a particular bookstore, and then when when you order an eBook from the Zola website, that bookstore will receive from Zola a part of the eBook sale price. This seems utterly fair to me. If the store has helped to make the sale by having a print copy of a book on display, then that store should be rewarded.
Tell your favorite local bookseller about Zola. I fear that if the local stores do not find a way to participate in the eBook market, their chances of staying in business are not good.