You bought your unitard at American Apparel to support vertically integrated, fair wage manufacturing. Your single origin chocolate is shade grown, fair trade and even features an endangered animal on the wrapper. What about the books on your e-reader?
Can your e-book purchasing choices make a difference? Absolutely.
In this series, I examine alternatives to the mega-online booksellers. We love them, too, but they don’t need the attention.
Part 2: Indie Presses
Recent years have seen massive changes in the publishing industry.
With the rise in self-publishing, the fiction market is flooded– and it can be difficult to sift the gems from the junk. Large presses are putting their dollars into fewer books. Books most likely to achieve commercial success get the most publicity. Yes, you’ll hear about the latest Julia Glass release (can’t wait!) and certainly the Hollywood sex addiction tell-all, but how do you learn about a new, fresh literary voice?
Enter the indie press. You can find their books on Amazon, if you know where to look, but search their websites directly to discover a universe of high-caliber writing. Many focus on special interests, so whether you read LGBT Civil War Romance, or socially conscious literary fiction, indie ebook publishers might offer more and better books to fit your interests than the big presses.
Who better to interview for this segment than Kelly Shorten, one of the leading forces behind Musa Publishing, the indie press that published my novel?
It’s so easy to search for books on Amazon. Can you tell us why e-book readers might want to check out Musa and other small presses directly?
That’s a great question. The most direct answer is one that the average reader may not understand, but in Musa’s spirit of transparency, we will be blunt! Amazon is a huge tool and a necessary force in e-commerce—no doubt about that. But the reality is that Amazon is a business and they make money by selling their products—just as every business should. When a reader purchases a book directly from the Musa website, Musa pays the author a higher amount because we don’t have to pay a third-party retailer like Amazon for their “store.” So simply put, you support small business and authors more directly when you buy from Musa.
You also won’t find boats and dishwashers and dog food sold on the Musa site. We publish books and we only sell books, so if you want to connect with authors, discover new books, and shop in an e-bookstore, you might really enjoy what you find by visiting the Musa website directly. We have specialized content on our site and our blog that you simply won’t find elsewhere.
We feel it’s important no matter where you buy your books, however, to acknowledge and thank our customers. Authors and publishers truly would not survive without readers—we are in this business FOR readers! And it’s very important to us to thank our customers and show our appreciation for that loyalty and trust, so we do periodically run specials, sales, and other promotions. All of that fun stuff can be found only by visiting our site, so we hope readers do visit us often.
What are small presses offering that big presses don’t?
Well, as a small press, we can provide our perspective on what we think we do well. Musa is proud of our commitment to our authors. When a reader buys a book from Musa, they are purchasing a book that has been a collaborative effort. Editors, interns, artists, financial, IT, and creative professionals have all worked directly with the author to make that book a reality. We educate our authors and believe in a community model of doing business. Transparency, community, and education are our values. Any author can reach any senior staff member by clicking an email, logging onto Skype, or even picking up the phone. Small companies are like families and we aren’t sure that many big presses make their senior staff and directors accessible to interns and authors alike.
Books make great gifts but what about e-books? Can people gift an e-book from Musa Publishing?
Absolutely, e-books make wonderful gifts! If you have an email address for the recipient, you can give an e-book as a gift in minutes! Talk about immediate delivery… and there are no shipping costs!
It’s very easy to gift a specific Musa book or to give a Musa a gift certificate. Our wonderful IT Director is accessible for any complications that may arise during the purchasing process, but our website is very user friendly.
The publishing world is changing. Many publishers are bemoaning the changes, but Musa is constantly responding, anticipating what readers need and want. What can readers expect to see from Musa in the future?
Another great question! Without giving away any surprises, readers can expect Musa to consistently provide quality books at reasonable prices. If you look at the prices our competitors charge, you’ll see that we price our books much lower. We do this not because our books are shorter or not as well written. We have developed a business model based on value and quality. We would rather have a reader spend $12 on three or four Musa books than on one—or maybe not buy from us at all. Whether the author has published their first book or their 30th best-seller, Musa will offer fantastic reads for prices that people can afford.
Buy your e-books from small publishers to support literary diversity, small businesses, and original voices, plus pay less. Sounds like a plan.