I was a monogamous kind of girl in a committed relationship. For what seemed to be forever. I did not stray. Until I was forced to. Until I was given no other choice. Until I felt I had been abandoned. My needs no longer met.
At first I thought it was a rumor. Some little piece of gossip that had been created to sell a newspaper or make a good lead for a story. But then one day I walked by the store, the big beautiful store that stood at the corner of 66th and Broadway and read the sign. It was true. They were closing. For good. That would be the final Christmas season I could run in on December 24 for a last minute gift. My love affair was about to come to an unceremonious end.
Yes, the sign reminded shoppers that they had other Barnes and Noble choices, the closest being at 82th and Broadway. But really, what were they thinking? This is New York. Sixteen blocks? Just to go browse? I think not. Besides, had anyone making this decision ever been in that location? Cramped. Who goes to browse for books in a cramped location? And didn't they know that this was THE Barnes and Noble in the city? Yes, Union Square might come close, but this was the jewel. And Greenwich Village. Not only cramped, but without a public bathroom. How do they get away with that?
All of this, mind you coincided with my impending decision to self-publish. That decision alone was going to make me have to change my tune about how I felt about the other guy. You know who I'm talking about. That hugely successful online giant who lures in people with cheap prices and fast shipping. That place that small stores fear will put them out of business.
It was against everything I believed in, but I had made a decision to self-publish and I was going to have to open my eyes and my heart to what they might be able to offer me. Barnes and Noble's abandonment just made it a little easier.
I was unprepared for how quickly Amazon would win me over. Should I have been surprised that the easiest, most efficient and reliable upload for my book file was through Kindle Direct? Or that the best choice for a newbie publisher in the world of print on demand would be through Amazon's CreateSpace, where they even have real live humans who will answer the phone and your questions. Maybe not, but I was.
I published my first novel The Secrets They Kept, in September 2011. It was then my new suitor seduced me further.
With Amazon I could change the price with a 24-hour turnaround. They gave me an Author page I could update as often as I like. They made it easy for and encouraged people to write reviews. The reviews essentially result in free advertising. And then of course, there were the sales. Which once again surprised me. The sales from Kindle outperformed everything else. By a long shot. Including the sales on Nook, which I had made available through a third party distributer, Smashwords. I could see my sales in real time. And they pay. Quickly.
The next thing I knew, I let my Barnes and Noble membership expire. They had abandoned me, I could abandon them. Besides I just wasn't using it. When the store still marked the corner of the Lincoln Triangle even when I bought online I made sure it was B&N. Now my new infatuation was helping me sell books. My loyalties switched. With one click Whispernet sends an e-version to my iPad and as a Prime member good old-fashioned print gets shipped at no cost.
When it came time to publish my second book, I decided to experiment with Kindle Select, which gives Amazon exclusivity to the electronic sales of your book in 90-day increments. It also allows you to run free promotions. I offered It Takes An Egg Timer, A Guide to Creating the Time for Your Life for free for three days in June and got just short of 1600 downloads and a #1 spot in the time-management category for free books for the run of the sale. Yes, it was temporary, but for three days they had made me a best-selling author. What's not to love?
I was falling fast and furious for someone I had been sure was just not my type. And it wasn't just about books. I discovered that you can buy almost anything on Amazon. When I ran out of Duane Reades in Manhattan to visit in search of my favorite Essie nail polish color I thought, why not check? A quick search and there it was. Boathouse. Same price. No shipping costs. I had succumbed to their charms. It was too hard not to.
It's been over a year and a half but I still miss my old Barnes and Noble. I miss the feel and smell of new books when I walked in the store. I miss browsing and the excitement of discovering something new or running into a friend I haven't seen in a while that just does not happen with online shopping. I miss dreaming of one day seeing my books piled on the Discover Great New Writers table or having a reading on the third floor.
But things change and if we don't change with them, they will change us. Now I dream of being an Amazon bestseller.