[NOTE: We at ABSW are still in our “testing period” with pilot programs for e-books from several publishers and with Kobo, so our current selection of e-book choices versus audiobooks and audio dramas is still quite small. We continue to explore the best ways to serve ALL our customers, and we thank Matt and the staff of Necon E-Books for this lovely spotlight.]
GUEST BLOG BY MATT BECHTEL OF NECON E-BOOKS
I was about to apologize if the opening of this installment of our Blog Tour sounds like a commercial for its host. But you know what? I don’t apologize for that at all! Because I can state, with a fair amount of certainty, that Les Daniels would have loved Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester.
Annie’s Book Stop brags of being, “The little bookstore that’s bigger on the inside,” and that’s an amazingly true statement in more ways than one. Physically, Annie’s literally winds its way back like a catacomb, offering section after section and even room after room of lost treasures. However, Annie’s has made a point to be even bigger emotionally, playing a vital role in the local horror community by hosting a number of NEHW events (including an amazing all-day fundraiser shortly after Rick Hautala’s tragic and sudden passing). With both their cornucopia of books and memorabilia and their sense of obligation towards the genre’s artists and fans, I’m certain Les would have appreciated every part of what makes Annie’s so special.
Between author readings during the fundraiser they held in Rick’s memory, I inadvertently fell into what became a long business discussion with Annie’s owners Patricia Cryan and Michael Salvo. Truthfully, I was a bit hesitant to mention my role with Necon E-Books; after all, I was at their used bookstore, surrounded by shelves and shelves of inventory that would primarily appeal to book lovers above all else! Part of me expected them to throw holy water at me and drive me out of their store when I introduced myself as a partner in a digital publishing company.
“We love e-books,” Michael stunned me with his reply. “We’ve started selling them.”
I must admit, I was a bit taken aback. “How so?” I asked. “Do you link from your web site to online sales pages?”
“No, they’re right at the register,” Michael told me, pointing to a rack of digital media.
Suddenly, I got it. Now granted, Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester will never, ever challenge Amazon when it comes to e-book sales, but this small, independent location was making a point to service as many customers as possible (accordingly, Michael and Patty showed me their impressive shelves of audiobooks as well). Here I was, afraid I’d be seen as “the enemy” as a digital publisher, yet instead I was welcomed as the exact opposite. Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester may be more accurately named Annie’s STORY Stop, because it’s a love for the words upon the page that they foster above all else; however you want to enjoy a work of literature, Annie’s will bend over backwards to accommodate.
Moreover, from a business standpoint, I commended Patty and Michael for the physical placement of their e-book inventory. As I said, it stood right at the register, a beckoning rack of extremely reasonably priced titles just waiting to be loaded upon an e-reader. They were the equivalent of a pack of gum at the register of a grocery store, a literary “impulse buy” too good and too cheap to pass up as you checked out the rest of your purchases.
For those who don’ t know, Necon E-Books was founded in 2010 when Bob Booth discovered a “donut hole” in the world of publishing. An avid book collector and voracious reader his entire life, Bob had (somewhat hesitantly at first) taken the plunge and bought his first e-reader and immediately fallen in love with it. Bob was also an obsessive list maker, and as such decided to load his device with his all-time favorite horror titles … only to discover that most weren’t available as e-books. The newest and best selling horror novels were available, as were those that were old enough to be part of the Public Domain. However, the very best from ‘The Golden Age of Horror” (late 70s / early 80s) laid fallow. Truthfully, it was easy to see why — the authors still retained the rights to these out-of-print classics, so someone would need to re-contact (and re-contract) them about publishing their work in this new media. Perhaps someone whom they already knew and trusted? Suffice to say, the reaction to Bob’s initial inquiries was so positive that we hit the ground running, and Les was one of the very first authors who jumped on board with us because he recognized the opportunity for his lost classics to be re-found.
Which is where, as contrarian as it may seem at first, a small, independent used bookstore in Worcester and our small, independent digital publishing company are, in fact, following the exact same business philosophy to service the exact same customer base. Works that fell into that “donut hole” (such as Les Daniels’ Don Sebastian Chronicles) are simply too good to ever completely vanish from circulation. Previously, stores like Annie’s were the only resource for finding such lost, out-of-print classics. Now, new technology and companies like ours are making these stories more available, and Annie’s is embracing the opportunity new media provides to provide said stories to their customers. It truly doesn’t matter whether one prefers to leaf through the yellowed pages of an aged paperback, have the story read to you as an audiobook, or use one finger scroll through the tale as an e-book. It’s the love and appreciation for the work itself that trumps all else. As such, as I said, I’m confident Les would have loved Annie’s; their inventory, their spirit, their commitment to the community, their all-encompassing approach, and their unabashed love of a good story. After all, I don’t know a single author who wasn’t first, foremost, and still, a fan.
Just a friendly reminder — The Complete Don Sebastian Chronicles are now available as e-books at http://neconebooks.com, so please order your copies today!