i am way into this, but it’s sort of dependent upon a centralized physical locality, at least in it’s current form. since most small presses seem to sell almost exclusively online, the “punch card” would have to be digitized; it needs some sort of electronic infrastructure
Last year I thought it’d be cool to organize a book bundle (ebooks, I imagined at the time) from various indie publishers that would be sold at one (relatively low) cost for a super-limited amount of time (one week), which happens frequently with software ( http://www.humblebundle.com is probably the shining example at the moment). I thought about it for a few days and then forgot about it. Well, there’s an idea for the pickings for y’all.
Maybe it would work best as a separate website where each customer would create an account. Then, at checkout of each online indie bookstore/press purchase, you are given a code that you copy-paste into your [brand-x] account. When you accrue points in that account, you earn coupon codes that you could use at the time of purchase from your choice of participating online indie booksellers/presses.
Problem with a punch-card type system, you buy full price at Dzanc, redeem points or rewards at Dark Sky, by virtue of pure randomness certain presses will undoubtedly bear an undue amount of the discount burden. Instead, sell CLMP scrip like Disney bucks. $100 gets you $110 in scrip. $500 gets you $600 and a nifty tote bag. Redeemable for journal subscriptions, online book orders, and the discount burden is spread equitably and built into every purchase.
Coffee is coffee, you know, but each book is a like different book. If I wanna buy Philip Roth, there is no “small press alternative.” If I wanna buy Indie Lit Book X, there is only a single press that sells it. Publishers don’t work the same way coffee shops do.
That’s true, but it’s not like such a program would be forced on a consumer. If someone was very active in the indie lit/whatever scene, he or she could get into it. If someone was just looking for a particular book, he or she could pass on it.
They’re not doing this for the same reason small presses aren’t doing lots of cool and interesting things. Resources. Who would manage such a program? The logistics are not as simple as they seem. With a disloyalty card, patrons go to a coffee shop, get their card stamped, carry their record with them. With a program like this, a system would have to be developed to verify and track sales before the customer could then go back to the original publisher to get their free book. Sure, it’s easy enough to forward a PayPal receipt, but to manage x number of purchase verifications, for x number of customers? No matter what clever idea “we” came up with, there would still need to be some kind of management of such a program for it to truly succeed and small presses are already stretched so thin that it would be hard to find someone to step up and say, I’ll run this and it would be equally hard to find someone who would also then sustain such a program. Consistent effort is hard to come by in many arenas.
Why would anyone want to travel all over Singapore getting a card punched at different indie cafes so that they might eventually get a cup of free joe at the originating shoppe – even if they’re trying to make some kinda superior collectivist point, in one of the world’s most repressive so-called democratic republics? It’s coffee. I don’t see how in this instance, for this product, how:
…teaming up with similar smaller companies can create stronger competition.
The question should be – maybe – why aren’t independent bookstores doing this? I could see how such a model might be worth exploring for indie book shoppes, in selected cities. Financially though, I’m still not sure it’d make sense for the businesses involved.
yes, only really makes sense at a bookstore level. talking at a press level is like cofeebean growers aligning themselves with punch cards, when in fact not all coffee bean are alike. The most necessary function for presses to align on is for distribution & promotion, not at the sales point. And this has been tried before, but then the issue is who to align yourself, and at the same time remaining “independent”.
Because many if not most small presses have little-no interest in doing much work to actually sell books. That’s seemingly below a lot of editors–you don’t get to show off how great your taste is (the “editing” or “curating” process) or bitch about how nobody reads or only reads commercial fluff (got to have a hobby).
There was some chatter about doing this for a group of reading series here in Chicago a while back, but it never got off the ground. There was some commotion about coming up with events that were similar enough to attract the same audience members, but different enough that those audience members would want to return to each one.
I would say in my experience small publishers do exactly as much as small record labels. Both send out review copies to relevant blogs and review outlets. Both maintain active social media presences. One big difference is it’s seems way easier to get your book reviewed on, say, HTMLgiant than it is to get your cd reviewed on Pitchfork, because the market for indie music is way bigger than the market for indie lit. Another difference is I think people are more likely to buy books from a publisher than music from a record label. People either buy music from iTunes or they buy it from the musician on tour. Unless the band is really big and the label has big distribution. Then they buy it everywhere. Are you saying that small presses should try to get their books in more physical bookstores?
There are plenty of small record labels that don’t promote their shit at all. I’ve released albums with some of them.
Of course it’s not “industry A is entirely this way, industry B is entirely the other way.” There’s good and bad in both.
But if you look in the last 10 years in the ways that indie music people have figured out how to distribute (“distribute” basically just means get the product in the hands of people who like/might like it, right?)in such a way that more artists can gain an audience and the cultural conversation has been immeasurably broadened. And they did it more or less before and better than the majors.
I’m saying nothing like that has happened in a major way in the lit world. And I’m saying one of the reasons is a sort of disdain for the pragmatic elements of running a business or business-like entity. Are the challenges different from those of the music industry? Possibly. But very few people seem to be trying to meet those challenges in a serious way. And it sucks for the presses and the authors and readers.
I think a big part of why independent labels are doing so well has to do with the internet, and with file sharing dismantling the major labels. I love indie labels, but I honestly don’t think they’ve done anything that revolutionary in terms of promotion or distribution. Definitely not anything that isn’t being done by small presses. I think if iTunes had happened before Napster we probably wouldn’t have gotten the indie boom that we did. Unfortunately it looks like Kindle is iTunes and it has come out before the Napster equivalent broke on a big level this time.