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I think it is short sighted and personally I'm not keen on it as an idea.  Why are they charging customers to come to their shops and spend money?  Seems counter-productive to me!   

 

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Dumb.  Dumb, dumb, dumb. 

Yes, I can see someone like Anne Rice or JK Rowling or Stephen King drawing a crowd even if people have to pay.  But a mid-list or indie author?  In this economy?

Bookstores may have the up on Amazon, etc. with author events, but THIS is not the way to take advantage of it. 
 

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Yeah, who is going to pay to see a midlist author? The article did state that at one bookstore the admission would be waived if the customer buys the hardback, so there's that.

I think it shows how how endangered bookstores are, unfortunately.
 

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But of course the fact remains that the customer may already OWN the book.  Or not want a hardback copy (I personally hate hardbacks.  They're heavy, awkward, and expensive.).

And to say that bookstores "Have something Amazon doesn't have" is only partially true.  Recently Amanda Hocking had her fans send in their questions and comments and then she and a friend made a video where she answered some of the questions.  There are plenty of other authors doing real-time interviews, discussions and whatnot.  I may not be able to fly to LA to see Author X read a chapter of her book, but I can follow a chat or watch a video online.  Granted, there are plenty who prefer "in person" events, but not everyone can get to them.
 

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SheaMacLeod said:
But of course the fact remains that the customer may already OWN the book. Or not want a hardback copy (I personally hate hardbacks. They're heavy, awkward, and expensive.).
Yes but for years the bookstores have tried to stop people bringing in copies to get signed. For one, it's a lost or No sale. For two, some people bring in 16 copies to get signed and it holds up the line. So they really don't care about the fact that you might own it...

It's a silly idea. Those who really want to see the big name authors will go. Those on the fence won't bother. And what if I'm in the store and want to go see someone who happens to be there? Do they charge me to stand in line? Maybe I was mildly curious about someone I hadn't heard of...

It's silly. It might work to generate some cash for a politician or Rowlings where the bookstore might even have to hire security or a larger room, but in general, it's not a good thing.
 

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Well, some book stores have insisted that you buy a book from them to attend signings for a while now. I think this is just an evolution of that idea, and depending on how much they charge it might actually work out less for consumers.

I agree with Shea though, I'm not sure they can claim to offer an experience that readers can't get otherwise anymore. Lots of authors offer interaction online these days, from videos to podcasts to twitter Q&As.
 
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Zelah Meyer said:
I think it is short sighted and personally I'm not keen on it as an idea. Why are they charging customers to come to their shops and spend money? Seems counter-productive to me!
It depends what you are paying for. For example, I can understand a nominal fee to cover refreshments at an out of hours event when the shop is providing them to attendees, but a high ticket price just to speak to an author will put a lot of readers off.
 

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I understand physical bookstores having a concern about not being Amazon showcases, but this doesn't strike me as the answer. If anything, it may risk alienating some customers / potential attendees and compromising the comfortable community atmosphere these bookstores once used to their advantage. I also know that if I had to pay to attend such an author event, I'd put the emphasis on event and expect a bit more than a simple reading or meet and greet session, which puts added pressure on the author. If they want to charge for the big names, fine, but for all events?--it seems counterproductive.

When I had a small press / POD book out a few years back, local signings accounted for some of the only sales. I appreciated it, and I endorsed some of these stores. They might do well to remember that even the smallest of authors are potential customers too.
 

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MariaESchneider said:
Yes but for years the bookstores have tried to stop people bringing in copies to get signed. For one, it's a lost or No sale. For two, some people bring in 16 copies to get signed and it holds up the line. So they really don't care about the fact that you might own it...
True. And I agree that 16 copies (or however many) is ridiculous. Obviously those aren't personal copies. But I'm still not cool with being forced to buy.

VH Folland said:
It depends what you are paying for. For example, I can understand a nominal fee to cover refreshments at an out of hours event when the shop is providing them to attendees, but a high ticket price just to speak to an author will put a lot of readers off.
I absolutely agree. An out of hours event with some refreshments and maybe a couple of interesting speakers for a reasonable price, I've no problem with that. But being charged DURING hours for an author event (usually someone I've never heard of) is NOT cool. I would think they would soon begin to LOSE business.
 

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I'd be happy with paying if I knew it was going to the author directly, but likely it is just another stop gap measure to prevent the bleeding out the industry as a whole is experiencing.  I'd probably still pay, to be honest, just because while I know the store keeps all the cash, it's still a way to show you support an author, in a roundabout way.  They made the effort to show up and be available to their fans, the least I could do is pay a cover charge and show that some people still appreciate the author doing a signing.

Still against it on principle, but my love of authors wins this one out.
 

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SheaMacLeod said:
I'm still not cool with being forced to buy.
I am. I think it's incredibly tacky to bring in a copy of a book you already own to a signing at a bookstore. To a signing at a conference (as long as the signing isn't raising money for charity, which many do) or a library, sure. But to a bookstore, where the whole point of the signing is to sell books (I mean, duh, the bookstore didn't invite the author out of the goodness of their heart)? Wow. Just wow. People actually do that?!
 

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Amanda Brice said:
I am. I think it's incredibly tacky to bring in a copy of a book you already own to a signing at a bookstore. To a signing at a conference (as long as the signing isn't raising money for charity, which many do) or a library, sure. But to a bookstore, where the whole point of the signing is to sell books (I mean, duh, the bookstore didn't invite the author out of the goodness of their heart)? Wow. Just wow. People actually do that?!
This is common (or used to be). I went to a Janet Evanovich signing (and a Laurell K Hamilton one, as well - same indie bookstore) where people brought some backlisted books to be signed. There were limits to how many, of course. And nearly every person bought not only the latest release, but other books as well. I remember one woman walking out with an armload of books after the signing. She must have bought a good 12 or 15 books.

As for me, I was broke. Dead broke. I'd gotten my copy from the library (obviously not to be signed!). I was just thrilled to be there and have the experience of meeting the author and watching my friend get her book signed. And when I did have money I went back to the bookstore and bought many, many more books over the years.

If I'd have been forced to buy something I wouldn't have gone (Wouldn't have been able to afford it.). And I would never have returned to spend my money.
 

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Wow. Just wow. People actually do that?!
I have, and I'm not ashamed of it. The author signed the book I brought and was gracious about it, which encouraged me to buy the other books the author wrote, one right on the spot. If I wasn't allowed to bring the book I'd already purchased, I wouldn't have attended and those other sales would have been lost.
 

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But there's a difference between being there and having the experience of meeting the author (even if you don't get something signed because you can't afford it) and bringing in a book you bought elsewhere. One is simply being in the store without spending money (which happens all the time...tons of people go to bookstores and browse and then don't buy anything) and the other is actively bringing in something you'd already bought.

It's like a restaurant. They don't want you to bring in food from the outside and then sit at their tables and eat it.
 

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Amanda Brice said:
But there's a difference between being there and having the experience of meeting the author (even if you don't get something signed because you can't afford it) and bringing in a book you bought elsewhere. One is simply being in the store without spending money (which happens all the time...tons of people go to bookstores and browse and then don't buy anything) and the other is actively bringing in something you'd already bought.

It's like a restaurant. They don't want you to bring in food from the outside and then sit at their tables and eat it.
True. And I have no problem with a bookstore saying "Sorry, but only books purchased in this store may be signed." What I DO have a problem with is being forced to buy something at that store.
 

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But there's a difference between being there and having the experience of meeting the author (even if you don't get something signed because you can't afford it) and bringing in a book you bought elsewhere.
Perhaps, but the experience is the point of the signing--particularly for the author, but in a way for the store too. It's not simply to sell books in the short term but to sell in the long term. So someone didn't buy a book at that exact moment. Does that mean they may not ever buy the book? That they may not buy in the bookstore? They'll be far more likely to come back and pay, in my opinion, if they aren't compelled to buy at just that moment.

I can definitely say that if I wasn't allowed to bring in that book, which I did buy elsewhere (Amazon), I wouldn't have attended the signing. If the store was disinclined to allow me to bring the book to the event, I doubt I would've shopped there as much. Due to their respectful treatment of the issue, I ended up buying more regularly--the ultimate goal.
 

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I'm planning to write about 1000 words tonight. I'm charging $5 to get in and see me work. Oh, and you will be charged 2 cents just for reading this message.
 

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Well, if they won't even allow you to go into that section of the store without purchasing something, that is their prerogative, just as it's your prerogative to not shop there in the future. We vote with our wallets. :D

As for signings, maybe my worldview is skewed since in the romance world, all our signings at conferences are to raise money for charity, so your purse/totebag/etc is checked at the door ahead of time and you're not allowed to enter with any books, but it just would never occur to me to bring a book to a bookstore. If I already own a particular book by that author and I want to meet her and get her autograph, then I purchase a different book.
 
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