NCIBA’s Hut Landon Takes Technology on Tour

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Since July 4, Hut Landon, the executive director of the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association (NCIBA), has been visiting IndieCommerce stores to talk about e-books and provide demonstrations for store staff. Landon walks booksellers through the buying process from downloading Adobe Digital Editions to purchasing e-books using the Nook and iPad. About 20 NCIBA area stores are participating.

“I wanted to give store staff an opportunity to see what the process looked like so they could better answer questions and understand what their customers go through, especially the first time,” said Landon. “I thought it would demystify e-books for some and make stores more comfortable marketing e-books in general.”

Among the stores Landon has visited is Four-Eyed Frog Books in Gualala, where he talked to staff and customers. “It was very useful,” said co-owner Joel Crockett. “We used our computer, the iPad, and the Nook so people could see step by step how to order that first e-book. Everyone appreciated that Hut came out here to do this. He answered everyone’s questions.”

Following Landon’s visit, Crockett was interviewed by local radio station KTDE about e-books and indie booksellers’ ability to adapt and serve the growing market.

At each of his stops, Landon discusses e-books and IndieCommerce with booksellers, and also points out where to find the IndieCommerce support, marketing materials, and FAQs. “I remind everyone that customers need to know to return to the store’s web site for additional ordering. And I show a sample of a ‘Thank You for Your Order’ e-mail from Book Passage that makes that very point.”

During the e-book demonstrations, typical questions are about e-book formats and agency model pricing. Landon directs booksellers to the homepage of the Booky Joint in Mammoth Lakes for a good example of how to market and explain the pricing of e-books.

Eight booksellers took part in Landon’s presentation at Diesel, A Bookstore in Oakland. It was a good forum to “discuss and absorb e-book knowledge and practices into our everyday store work,” said Diesel co-owner John Evans. “It encouraged us to all work on the issues specific to our store, our staff, and our procedures and to incorporate them into our normal operations. 

“Hut was very helpful, but much of the benefit also came from our booksellers’ informed or creative responses to how best to integrate the information into our store, our website, and our interactions with customers.”

The most common stumbling block with e-books is not technological, said Landon. It’s remembering user names and passwords. The process has become streamlined by Google Login — customers don’t need to remember a separate user name and password for the store website, but users still need to log into the store website with the correct information. The Nook and iPad are keyed to a user name as well.

Landon said that he was grateful to ABA Technology Director Matt Supko for teaching him about Google eBooks™ and to the six agency model publishers who sponsored his e-book tour  — Simon & Schuster, Random House, HarperCollins, Penguin, Macmillan, and Hachette

Stores on the NCIBA Technology Tour

A Great Good Place for Books, Oakland

Book Passage, Corte Madera

Book Passage, San Francisco

Books Inc., Alameda

Books Inc., Berkeley

Books Inc. Laurel Village, San Francisco

Booky Joint, Mammoth Lakes

Cheshire Books, Fort Bragg

Diesel, A Bookstore, Oakland

East West Books, Mountain View

Four Eyed Frog, Gualala

Gallery Bookshop, Mendocino

Laurel Bookshop, Oakland

Mrs. Dalloway’s, Berkeley

Pegasus Books (3), Berkeley & Oakland

Spellbinder Books, Bishop

The Reading Bug, San Carlos