In a recent Forbes article called Publishers, Readers and the End of Booksellers, author Suw Charman-Anderson questions some of the conclusions reached by The Bookseller's Philip Jones in an earlier Forbes editorial about the role of booksellers in today's publishing market.
Drawing on an article by Hugh Howey, the bestselling author of the independently published book, Wool, the article includes some excellent points every writer should consider. The primary point of the discussion is the question of bookseller relevance and how important distributors, wholesalers and retailers are to writers, especially self-published writers.
Howey, in his article called It's the Reader, Stupid, attributes the success of independent authors to the fact that they are focused on the reader, whereas the publisher is selling to the bookseller and distributor and the traditionally published author is pitching to the publisher. The assumption used to be that the publisher knew the market and if you could sell your project to the publisher, it would sell to the readers.
If publishers start marketing directly to readers, will booksellers become unnecessary?
Booksellers are one of the marketing channels for getting books into the hands of readers, and they have an important role, not the only role, but a vital one in the marketing and selling process.
The all or nothing attitude, where proclamations about physical books being dead and bookstores vanishing, allows no room for compromise or the recognition that there is a place for each element. It may not be the same place as it has been in the past, but it's unlikely that the physical book will disappear and equally unlikely that bookstores and distributors will cease to exist.