Books are back?

Most of 2020 was clouded with bad news, but maybe there’s a flicker of good news mixed in. Across the board all genres of books saw sales gains from the previous year. According to Nielsen Bookscan the total number of books sold was 751 million. This was the best year for book sales since 2010!

Just writing that is amazing. The top selling book of the year was former President Obama’s A Promised Land. Unsurprisingly. There are several factors at play here and who really knows what will happen in the coming years, but people are buying and reading books, and there’s not a single negative when that happens.

The bestselling books of 2020:

A Promised Land – Barack Obama

Midnight Sun – Stephenie Meyer

Dog Man: Grime and Punishment – Dav Pilkey

Too Much and Never Enough – Mary Trump

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes – Suzanne Collins

Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens

Untamed – Glennon Doyle

The Deep End – Jeff Kinney

White Fragility – Robin DiAngelo

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse – Charlie Mackesy

Did you read any of these last year?

Is This the Best Way to Buy a Book?

I’ve known about bookshop.org since its launch, though I hardly gave it any thought. It’s an online bookstore that aims to help and preserve independent bookstores in the US.

I’ve written over and over about how much I love Half Price Books. It’s really the only bookstore I regularly shop at. HPB may be a chain, but it’s still family owned. They fall somewhere in the middle of Barnes and Noble on the top of the stack and the local mom and pop bookstore with a single location.

But bookshop.org tries to level the playing field. The site gives away most of its profits to local bookstores and has an affiliate program that pays out 10% commission and matches that with 10% to local bookstores.

When checking their website there’s a lot to like about it. But there’s one flaw. The site is its own bookstore. Though you can find affiliated stores on the site, when buying books you’re buying from the site. What I think would make the site ideal is if the books listed are actually bought from those local affiliate bookstores. The site would act as a marketplace. I’m not sure if this is possible, but it’s a thought. Do you have a favorite bookstore you prefer over others?

A New Possibility

Maybe you know, maybe you don’t, but for about a year from 2015-2016 I worked at Half Price Books. I’m sorry if you’re not in the US or live in a state without one. They’re really great places.

It was during this period I realized how silly I’d been for so long. Prior to that I’d almost exclusively bought my books through Amazon. Several years ago my favorite was actually Borders because they had the best coupons, but then they closed. At another point I had a Barnes and Noble membership. But the savings were never worth it.

As you can see, over the years I’ve constantly tried to get the most bang for my buck when buying books. Then I found HPB and my world forever changed. Now that vaccinations are starting my hope is that HPB is able to bring back their biggest sales in 2021. 4 times a year they have 20% off everything for a four day weekend. 4 other times a year they have a coupon for every day of the week, culminating with 50% off the final day.

I’ve written over and over about HPB on here. I honestly love the place. But lately it’s been difficult to find some of the books I’ve been looking for. And I’ve been looking for months. I partially attribute this to the pandemic. There’s definitely lots more shelf space than normal. I recently found another used bookstore just down the street from where I live. This is something of a gem, as it’s only one location. But it’s been around for decades. I haven’t gone yet, but I intend to. Who knows? Maybe this will be my new go-to store?

The Downside of Half Price Books

Since I worked at Half Price from 2015-2016 I’ve almost exclusively bought my books there. Why? Most of the books in store are in really good condition and I get to save money, which means more money for MORE books.

But of course there’s a downside to this. I never buy books online from because I’ve bought used books online before and the condition was atrocious when I finally got them. So I’m limited to what’s available in my local store.

That’s okay. It isn’t the worst thing ever. But I have three books I want to buy and have looked for multiple times and haven’t found them. Ugh. But I shall wait! Because I’m not spending 2x or more on a book I can get at Half Price. And don’t recommend I look at the library, I KNOW. But I need my own copies.

Broken Promise, But Not Really

I haven’t made a goal of not buying any new books in 2019. Which means I’m almost certainly going to buy some. I have a disease. 😂

Besides my favorite authors and series, whenever I enjoy an adaptation before reading the book I always want to go back and read it. Every single time. I know I’m not the only one, and don’t yell at me for not reading the book first to begin with. Sometimes we don’t even know there’s a book until afterward.

Recently I’ve watched two adaptations I really enjoyed. One was a movie and one was a series. Now I want both books. But I’m stingy. I never pay regular price and prefer to have Half Price coupons when I go. They only come out four times a year. Hmm.

Do you always read the book first when there’s an adaptation out or on the way?

Whoops.

Yesterday I wrote about Amazon largely ignoring readers during its annual Prime Day. I may have been mistaken.

There’s a new book I’m interested in coming out next week. I happened to see a tweet from its author stating that the book was 70% off on Amazon. I checked. It was. A brand new release was $8.40. I decided to buy it. Then noticed that Amazon was (and still is) running a promo on books. $5 off $15. Not exactly the mountain of savings you could have from other items, but it is something. The promo code is primebooks17.

Also, this week is coupon week at my local HPB.

Readers Largely Ignored On Prime Day

Today is Prime Day on Amazon. The site’s Black Friday type day in July. All Amazon devices are marked down, including Kindles. But I already have a Fire tablet. I’m in no need of an ereader.

Last night once I settled in after work I decided to take a look at the deals. There are many. But very few on anything I’d want. Largely absent from the deals? Books.

I understand that books may not be as sexy as other items, but why not I Clyde them when other media is included? There are a few books included, but hardly enough to write about.

I’d like to see $1, $2, and $3 paperback categories. Hardcovers for $5 or $10. That’s my idea of real deals on Prime Day. I’ll be sitting this one out for the third straight year.

Amazon is Still Causing Heartache for Publishers

We’ve all used Amazon. Some of us more than others. I imagine most of us are aware of the site’s option to buy with 1 click, right? I never use it, but I know it’s there. Now Amazon is allowing third party sellers to bid for the buy with 1 click option. Which isn’t new at all. Amazon has allowed this for other products but had excluded books. No longer.

What this means is that a third party could potentially be the first option to buy on the product page rather than the copy of the book Amazon purchased from the publisher.

My problem with this whole thing isn’t with Amazon. It’s with book publishers thinking they’re so much better than every other business. I’ve bought so many different products on Amazon when the first option is a third party seller and there was an option to buy from Amazon too. Publishers publish books to make money. THE END. Let’s not be fooled by their crying over not being the first option on Amazon.

How come publishers aren’t attacking Half Price Books? Their books are being sold by the hundreds of thousands or maybe even millions, and they aren’t seeing a dime from those sales. But Amazon is the bad guy. Like always.

Go Now!

This week in the Houston area is one of Half Price Books’ coupon weeks. What is coupon week? Shoppers receive a coupon for each day of the week to use in-store. The week started with 20% off one item and has now risen up to 40% off an item. Tomorrow will be 50% off an item.

I write about this just about every time it happens because there is no better deal to be had. Why spend outrageous amounts of money to buy books if you don’t have to? Now go get something before the coupons are all gone!

Also, I can’t guarantee that it’s coupon week in other parts of the country.