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I recently contacted 5 local bookstores and 3 have agreed to sell some of my books. One of them will take the book on consignment. Has anyone had any problems with this type of there any other way? The other two stores are owned by friends so there isn't an issue.

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Hi Cindy,

In a way, all books sold in bookstores are "on consignment," because they get to ship them back to the publishers if they don't sell. (In my opinion, this is one of the fatal flaws in publishing, as I mention in a blog post). So, they're not offering you anything less than a publisher has to settle for.

Are there problems? Sure. The bookstore could "lose" your book, not pay you, etc. But it's the same risks any author/publisher takes. I'd say keep it in the bookstore, and use that for leverage. "The bookstore in X city is carrying it ... I think it will sell in your store, too."

Of course, when you visit, you should ask where your book is (don't say you're the author), and see if the staff can find it. Then, put it face out. Ask your friends to go and at least ask for it.

Good luck!

From my experience, every bookstore is different. I know one bookstore that took three copies straight up, and then put them up on the register area with a little "local author" sign. They sold out fast, but it was the author's responsiblity to check back and get them to restock the books (a small, local new/used bookstore). Another one, with four floors and thousands and thousands of titles took two on "consignment." They put them on the bottom shelf and nothing happened. I asked them how to get the books in a) a more prominent position, b) to get a face-out, c) to get moved to their "new arrivals" section. They said they only give face-out and position to those books that have sold. To reach this "status" on their system, one needs to sell 10 books. Kinda hard if the first two copies are on the bottom shelf. However, with a little side promo (i.e., word of mouth, flyers, a signing/reading in a local coffee shop) they sold the two, ordered more, and now the book is up on their "best seller/we recommend" section (for how long, I don't know, probably only as long as the book sells 10 or more copies a week - not long after the buzz dies down). A third bookstore said they would take two, but would also be happy to hold a book signing/talk, but they would not cover the cost of ordering the extra books since the author was new and unknown. Well, the author got the books themselves from the publisher, held the signing, gave the bookstore their cut, and now the bookstore has 5 on hand on their "new arrivals" area.

Lesson learned? Every bookstore is different. If it is a chain, then you probably have to go through their main buyer at corporate headquarters (not a likely chance unless you can show that you have Ingram or Baker and Taylor orders, which they can look up on their i-page system). I prefer the local independents myself, since I'm an independent publisher (of sorts) I like working with them. Either way, they all expect the standard 40%. The other thing is that more often than not the small, independents don't have the time or energy to hunt you down if your book sells - it is the responsibility of the author/publisher to check and see if the book has sold and if the store is interested in more.
I have books in a consignment bookstore and my books have done very well. The bookstore only takes $2.00 on every book that I sell.

I suggest you ask how much will be taken regarding the sell of the book. One consignment store took 60% of the sell of the book. I did not place my books there.
I have had good luck with the small local bookstores. Some take my books on consignment and some purchase them outright. Still having them in the store gives you an "in" to speak, do signings and have other events at the store. The owners generally appreciate the author's help and publicity especially if you have a book on consignment.

Consider it a tribute to your book that the stores are interested, even on consignment. Good luck and congratulations.

H. Court Young
Geologist, author & publisher
Promoting awareness through the written word
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Hi Cindy,

I have not had the experience of a bookstore wanting to take my books on consignment except for some independent bookstores.
Oh, boy, I've heard it all, too. My local barnes and noble always purchases my books for book signings, but then others won't. My son in California talked to his local b&n and they stocked a few. The same with a friend in Oregon, who took his copy of my book to a local store, and they ordered some. No one ever offered to take my books under consignment, and I really don't know if that's good or bad. I guess it can be good as long as we don't mind buying them back. Yes, it can be difficult to have stores stock for us when we aren't well known, or if they think our books can't be returned. Make sure the stores know they can be returned if ordered through Ingram. Am I correct on that?

Good luck!


Great that you are having luck getting your book into B & N and other stores. Often times just asking is the key. However, one thing to note is that not all publishers make books returnable. If they do not, then it becomes very hard for a book to get picked up by B & N or some other bookstore unless there is enough local demand. Sounds like your publisher did the right thing; some publishers can not afford the financial burden/gamble of making books returnable. Ingram does not set the returnability of a book - the publisher does.


Director and Editor: Bauu Institute and Press
Editor: Indigenous Peoples Issues Today
Publisher: Great New Books Reviewed
I have had very good luck with this type of arrangement. Just remember, follow up with each of the stores is essential. This arrangement also provides opportunities to work with small store owners to promote your books because they want the traffic and the events.

H. Court Young
Geologist, author & publisher
Promoting awareness through the written word

*subscribe to my free ILLUME newsletter and get
my free How to Prepare for the Coming Energy Crisis 3-part mini-course*
See my blog site here for my own insights into this and what I have done to get stocked in a third of Waterstoens stores across the UK:
Infinity Publishing pays royalties even on the books I personally order for my consignments. iUniverse didn't do that. That was my only hang up with iU. I don't know about the others. That was an important factor to me. You might as well understand now that YOU will be doing 99% of the promoting. Ask others who've been there, and read as many books as you can on the subject. I have an ever-growing shelf of self-help books. Most offer at least a few ideas you can use. Now about consignments. I have had great success regionally with those. It gives me a chance to go by occasionally and make certain the owners know my face and books. It has been rewarding on many levels. Most of my consignments have multiple book readings or signings. I recommend trying it. Just pick up the phone and call or better yet, drop by with a smile and a book. Most of them do want to read the book before stocking it. If you have truly written a quality book that has been carefully edited for grammar, spelling, etc., you should be fine. If they say 'no', move on down your list. I didn't know how to promote when Genesis Beach was released. I've been behind ever since. I started reading and asking questions. When Just North of Luck was released, I already had a website up and running. Now I have a video trailer and belong to about a dozen online writing/reading groups. Some of these cyber friends have done blurbs or reviews for me. My third novel is currently in the hands of two cyber friends who are combing for problems and have agreed to write blurbs if they think the book is worthy. I have offered to do the same for them.
Cindy, Georgia is correct about having a professional plan when you walk into a bookstore. Dress in slacks or suit, not jeans, have a copy of your book(s) with you, along with a prepared consignment sheet. This sheet takes various forms from the long and complicated one some folks use, to my own one page creation. It helps the store and you to keep up with where your books are. I regularly have stores call me now and want more as fast as I can get them there. Always keep some on hand so you don't keep them waiting. Of course, you do need to call or visit them often. A smile (sometimes hugs all around) add to the enjoyment. I have never had problems with collecting the money. Some write a check when I hand them books. Others mail it as each book is sold.
Susan, would you care to share your one page consignment sheet with us? I know I could use some direction in that area. Thank you!



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