Book Passage Develops Plans to Highlight Upstream Partnerships

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From his unique perspective as both a bookseller and an author, Bill Petrocelli, co-owner of Book Passage in Corte Madera and San Francisco, California, and author of The Circle of Thirteen (Turner), has identified several ways that booksellers can take action to promote the Upstream program and to highlight their ongoing relationships with authors.

Daniel Handler, also known as Lemony Snicket, announced the Upstream program in October and invited authors nationwide to partner with their local independent bookstores to sign stock of their books to keep on hand. Like many booksellers across the country, Book Passage is actively recruiting authors to join the Upstream program and to volunteer as guest booksellers for Indies First events on Small Business Saturday, November 29.

“The Upstream program is a way of linking authors to stores and linking stores to authors, and both of them benefit,” said Petrocelli, adding that authors who develop a relationship with their local store will have the backing of the store’s staff, and the bookstore has the publicity of partnering with an author. “It’s just a win-win all around.”

To broadcast the partnerships that Book Passage is establishing through these programs, Petrocelli plans to create dedicated author landing pages, similar to the one created by The Booksmith for its Upstream partnership with Daniel Handler.

Creating an author landing page is an easy way to feature an author’s entire collection of work rather than highlighting a single title, said Petrocelli. Booksellers can work with the author to create a page that showcases their books, upcoming events, photos, and reviews, along with information about Upstream and links to purchase titles through the partnering bookstore. To further feature the partnership, bookstores can link to author landing pages from store homepages and share links to them in newsletters and via social media, tagging the author in posts to alert his or her followers to the page. (IndieCommerce stores needing assistance in creating an author landing page should contact IndieCommerce Customer Service at staff@bookweb.org.)

When Petrocelli hired a designer to create a website for his bourgeoning career as an author, the designer automatically included a link to Amazon — despite Petrocelli owning an independent bookstore himself. It happens frequently that an author or web designer creating an author page will put in links to online retailers, said Petrocelli. “We’ve got to break the idea, the inertia, that sets in that it’s inevitable people are going to buy books online only from Amazon or Barnes & Noble. That doesn’t have to be the case.”

From a business standpoint, it’s Petrocelli’s belief that authors should not funnel all of their sales through Amazon, but, rather, should solidify relationships with multiple stores to create plenty of outlets for sales.

Petrocelli sees a definite upside to authors partnering with many different stores in their areas, linking to dedicated landing pages at the stores they are working with under Upstream or stores they will be visiting while on tour, and making it clear that autographed copies of their books will be available from those stores. “For years as a bookseller, one of the things that bothered me the most was visiting the websites of authors, particularly authors we knew locally and authors on tour who were going to appear at the store, and not seeing on their websites anything linking to our store for autographed books,” he said.

Authors should seek out stores to form partnerships with and spread their resources out to work with multiple bookstores, encouraging sales at those stores and, in turn, seeing the stores publicize the author. “We are all in this together, and what benefits any one of us will benefit all of us,” Petrocelli said.

Booksellers are encouraged to share Daniel Handler’s letter to authors in order to rally participation in the Upstream program. Likewise, the letter from Indies First spokespeople Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer can be shared to coordinate Indies First events on Small Business Saturday. Visit Indies First on BookWeb to find quick links to help stores partner with authors and create events.