~ By Chris Bailey

In our last post, Karin Wilson, president of Page and Palette, a three-generation independent bookstore in Fairhope, Ala., reassured us that Chick Lit is not dead in her market. She also shared some excellent ideas about how authors and booksellers can work together for mutual benefit.

Q. We’ve heard reports of the death of independent booksellers. How has Page and Palette managed to thrive?

A. It’s getting tougher and tougher for sure! We are an events-driven store so we bring in really great authors to the store about three times a week. We are well diversified too. Books are the heart of our business but we have a coffee shop, art supplies, gifts, greeting cards and a strong children’s department. Independents will thrive when communities understand the impact we have on the local economy and many ways these hubs enrich our communities.

Q. Self-publishing is seen as one way to break into today’s competitive marketplace. What’s your experience with self-published authors and their books?

A. There have been authors that have really stood out in self-publishing. I believe this is a great tool for authors to publish their book, make it successful in their own right. Many of these go onto getting their books published with big publishers. The downside of course is it’s hard to distinguish the gems in the vast amount of self-published books.

Q. Another route to publication is through e-books. What’s your take on the e-book market?

A. I think ebooks are here to stay but they will never replace books. People like: their libraries, the feel of books, being able to reference them with their dog-eared pages, sharing them with friends, buying used and antiquarian books, and their coffee table, cookbooks, picture books…don’t think this is going away.

Q. Based on your lifetime of experience, what career advice would you offer writers?

A. Read lots of great books! Great readers make great writers. Support your independent booksellers. We are the ones really who break out unknown authors. IndieBound bestsellers is a great example of this.

Q. Besides buying books, how can writers support independent booksellers?

A. Lots of things. On their website they can list IndieBound bookstores instead of (or in addition to) Amazon. I’m amazed at the number of authors who don’t do this. They can choose to tour their books with independent bookstores exclusively. Based on my experience, independents do a better job promoting and getting their books out…we actually read them! They can also spread the word about all the reasons to support the indies.

Thanks, Karin, for sharing your expertise with Chick Lit writers and readers. In all our corners of the world, we hope to foster relationships with independent booksellers.

~ Chris Bailey’s writing for hire has appeared online, in numerous U.S. newspapers and in mailboxes across the U.S. and Canada.