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A Soapbox Moment and Interview:{Indie}Pendent Books

December 22, 2009

Today I have Josie Kramer, the innovative owner of the new online Indie-bookstore, {Indie}Pendent Books and the book review blog The Book Journal. When I first started blogging about books I knew nothing about independently published books. I quickly learned that they had a pretty bad reputation but decided that I needed to read some for myself to form my own opinion and what I discovered is that there are some amazing self-published authors out there and there are some that probably shouldn’t have their work in print, but it was worth it to me to go through them myself to find those special ones.

Then I met Josie who was doing the same thing but taking it a step further to opening a store that showcases these talented authors that were either unable to get published via traditional methods or who chose self-publishing for some other personal reason. In my humble opinion many of these books should be offered contracts by mainstream publishers. I think too many are spending all of their time on writing fads looking for the next Stephanie Meyer or something else directed at the YA market that could be dubbed ‘the next greatest thing’, when what they should be doing is looking for something or someone new. They should be looking for the different or the unique – not just the same with different colors. Josie saw what was lacking in the mainstream world and took it upon herself to bring the new, the different and the great to us. She spent a lot of time reading a lot of great books and a lot of really badly done ones. In the end what she carries in her online store are only the best of the best out there. Not just the kinds of books she would normally read but books that are well written, well done and can effect each of us on some level. After all, why do we read if not as an escape from the world that is constantly pushing in on us? We’d get tired if we ate the same food daily with just a few subtle differences to each meal, and so it is with books – once the stories become too formulaic we, as readers begin to stagnate. The current climate in the publishing industry is to play it safe and only publish what fits into their pretty little box. I don’t want my life boxed in and neither do I want my books.

For these reasons I am now a supporter of Indie-pub books and hope you will give them a chance too. To be sure, like I said there are many that probably shouldn’t be out there for public consumption  – with typos, lack of plot and many other annoying things, but there are those out there that can go toe-to-toe with anything published by the mainstream and in some cases even give those traditionally published books a beat-down. They can expand your mind, your idea of reading and help you step beyond the genre boundaries you have either set in place yourself or been brainwashed into by the Literati. It is finding those books that make it worthwhile to me.

I hope you read this interview and then give some Indie-Authors a chance. You won’t regret it.

With that…

Welcome to Book Obsessed, Josie!

 

BookObsessedgrl: What made you decide to open an online store selling Indie-Pub books?

JK:  I have always read a lot. Lately I had been finding myself being able to tell who wrote a book by just reading one or two pages. And that’s when I realized I was a little. So I decided to enter the world of indie books. While everyone was telling me not to bother, I found myself in love with the new talent and new slant on things. I fell so in love that I wanted to share it with everyone. I know indie authors get a bad rap, but if people gave them a chance, they would see the same raw talent that I do.

BookObsessedgrl: I know you do book reviews also at The Book Journal and many of the books reviewed there are Indie-Pubs. Did the experiences w/those books give you an appreciation of the un-tapped talent out there?

JK: My review of Indie Books was definitely what got me motivated to not just sharing the books with my friends, but to give them a forum of their own to showcase their talents. And while I am rather critical in my reviews, I have been just as critical of Traditionally published books as I am of indie authors. There are so many books out there, that unless you put out a spotless book, it won’t go anywhere. So when I find that gem, I shout loud about it.

BookObsessedgrl: How many authors sent in their work when you initially announced that you were going to open an Indie-Store?

JK: Many. But I have made it clear that we pick the books to be added to our shelves. I know this seems really harsh, but we want the best of the best. Indies get a bad rap to begin with (lots of typos and bad editing) so I wanted to show people that a few bad apples don’t ruin the indie industry. There is a lot of untapped talent out there and I am more than happy to expose it to the world.

BookObsessedgrl: How do you go about deciding which books you would be carrying? What is your process for eliminating or keeping?

JK: Like I said above, if a book is ridden with typos, or there is no detail in the book, I tend to just review it and move on. I have accepted books, that while they aren’t MY cup of tea in terms of subject matter, are so well written, that I couldn’t pass them up.

BookObsessedgrl: Have you run into any issues with books you wanted to carry, but were unable to for any reason?

JK: In the beginning people were hesitant as we were a new store and they weren’t sure as to how it would work. However authors are catching on that we do carry good books and they want to be involved. In the month that we have been opened some books have already sold out the first order and we’ve had to re-order, so we are definitely getting the attention of consumers that have either always wanted this type of store, or consumers that are warming up to the idea that indie authors have a lot to offer.

BookObsessedgrl: What do you think about the main-stream publishing community’s concerns of the Indie-Pub movement?

JK: I think there will always be room for both methods. As well there should be. Main stream publishing has always monopolized the industry and it’s time new authors got their moment in the sun. Do I think main stream will ever be eradicated? No. But that’s ok. It should never be one or nothing.

BookObsessedgrl: Do you have a vision of how you would like the future of publishing and book buying in general to be?

JK: Well I would love the stiff shirts to loosen up and realize there is new, raw talent out there that is just pleading to be recognized They spend so much time sometimes publishing the same-same because there is a certain name attached rather than helping to discover the next big thing. I am in no way saying the “well-known” authors should be dropped, I am simply saying they can and should be moved an inch to the left to make room for someone else.

BookObsessedgrl: Indiependent has some very neat features about it, like the in-site chat box to ask questions and the author chats you’ve been having. Can you tell us more about them?

JK: we have given each other the authors we carry an ongoing opportunity to conduct Live Blog Chats with the public. They answer questions, do giveaways and hold raffles. It’s great because customers that want to know more about a certain book or author can log on and ask them any questions they have. Other authors also chime order to share inspiration and writing methods with each other.

BookObsessedgrl: Wow, that sounds a lot of fun and kind of like a virtual book signing!

JK: yeah it’s kind of cool

BookObsessedgrl: What has the customer response been like?

JK: Customer response has been great. Indie authors always have that extra hurdle to overcome. They aren’t well-known and don’t have customer loyalty yet. So by making them accessible, they can better communicate with their potential consumers as to who they are and what their work is really all about.

BookObsessedgrl: When I was on the site the other day, I noticed you had a chat this past weekend with a very young author. Can you tell us a bit about why you chose this book particularly?

JK: Riley Carney is 16 years old and her book The Fire Stone was actually recommended to me a twitter fan. It has received great reviews and even now is our best-seller. She is a great author and everyone that buys her book has nothing but great things to say about it. She is also an inspiration for younger authors that aren’t sure what to do with works they have put together or need the push to pick up the pen and put their creativity on paper.

BookObsessedgrl: Can you also explain a bit how the “live-help” feature works?

JK: Live Help is turned on during the day for people that want to ask me something specific about a book, shipping, or account information. It comes in handy if the customer wants to get the book, but isn’t sure about age range or subject matter. They can ask and I will lead them in the right direction

BookObsessedgrl: Do you have any plans to expand your store to offer e-books as well?

JK: We currently do have it open for e-books and will be offering one beginning in Jan. 2010. We would love to welcome e-book authors into our family and anyone interested can definitely contact us.

BookObsessedgrl: Do you have any promotions going on right now or author chats recently or coming soon?

JK: As we just talked about we had a chat with Riley Carney on Dec. 19th. We also had one on Dec. 20th with S.J. Rivera, author of Demon in the Mirror (You can see the transcript of S.J. Rivera’s Chat Here at the bottom of page, click on the “Additional Information” tab.). We have one coming up tomorrow, Dec. 23rd at 5 est with KL Romo, author of Is Harvey Dunne? and today we just announce a chat with Gary Ballard, author of Under the Amoral Bridge – which is our newest listing. (From Book Obsessed: I am particularly excited about Gary’s chat – his book is awesome and he is an incredibly interesting person to talk with.)

BookObsessedgrl: Do you have any promos or sales you would like my readers to know about?

JK: We have our winter sale going on right now until the 23rd where all of our books are on sale. The sale ends tommorow.

BookObsessedgrl: How’d you find S.J. Rivera? What was it about this book or author that impressed you so much?

JK: I found S.J. Rivera after I read a bit of his book online. I immediately liked his dark take on human nature. At first glance it may appear cynical, but when we look deep within ourselves we realize that we each have a dark inner shell. Call it our primal calling or whatever, but it’s in each of us. And I like how S.J. Rivera didn’t hold back in investigating it.

BookObsessedgrl: Anything you can tell me about KL Romo?

JK: K.L. Romo sent me a sample of her work and I fell in love right away. It’s a compelling story, very well written, that needs to be read by all. Her book made me laugh out loud and even cry. I can’t say enough about this book. Every single character is relatable whether you like them or not and you can barely contain yourself from jumping into the pages.

BookObsessedgrl: I see you have opened the chat box early so people can ask questions now in case they can’t make it to the chat itself. Will that be an ongoing thing? Can ppl send questions in earlier thru email or via Live Help chat box? Do you leave a transcript of chats up & available for ppl to view later in case they miss the chat?

JK: Originally I kept all chats up until the next one started so people could go and read what they had missed, but due to demand I will now be including transcripts on the Author page which can be accessed at the bottom of the book page, under the “Additional Information” tab. In addition to that I have set up the chat pages so people who can’t make it to the live chat can leave a question for the author beforehand and then go back and read the transcript later to see the author’s answers. People can send in questions early through email or through the chat box itself the second it has been posted. We realize not everyone can make it at the scheduled time and we want to give everyone an opportunity to be heard and have their questions offered. We will now also be posting the archived chat on the author’s book listing page, so everyone can go back and refer to it.

BookObsessedgrl: Did you give me a full vision of what you would like the online store to ultimately be like? If you want to branch out into selling books from say, authors who are published with small publishers?

JK: My short-term goal is pretty simple. To bring excitement back into book buying and receiving. We gift wrap every single of our orders keeping in mind that we are sending out talent. And that talent is a gift. It’s been open for a little over one month, and i would really like the store to be the place where people can go to discover new talent – well GOOD new talent not garbage. We sell book from both self-published AND those published from small publishers.

BookObsessedgrl: Do you have any books from small publishers that will be on your virtual shelves soon – that you are excited about?

JK: I am really excited to announce that we will soon be carrying all three current releases by author Denise Robbins! Her series that currently has three books, It Happens in Threes, Killer Bunny Hill and her most recent Connect the Dots will all be available in our store! An announcement will be on the sites front page as soon as they are available.

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The First 5 people who stop by {Indie}Pendent Books and purchase a book can get free shipping by using the coupon code: Heather  – at check out. Stop by – I know you will find something there you’ll like. There is also a review section available on each books page where you can review any of these books if you have read them. They’d love to have your feedback. 🙂

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. Veronica permalink
    December 23, 2009 01:57

    Its good to see wonderful book stores like this be successful. Wonderful post!

    V

  2. December 23, 2009 01:57

    Great interview!
    I agree with Josie that there are a lot of un recognized authors out there and for the sole reason that their book was self-pubbed or small press pubbed. It is a shame.

  3. Kevin permalink
    December 23, 2009 01:57

    Great interview and I love the idea behind this. There are so many self-published books out there, and it’s great that someone is picking through them all and putting the gems in one place to view and purchase. Plus the prices are attractive relative to the big online retailers. Very nice indeed.

  4. December 23, 2009 01:57

    Great interview ladies! And I love the Book Obsessed site – will be adding it to my RSS and website sidebar. (And thanks so much for the kind words – as always, appreciate them!).

    • December 23, 2009 01:57

      I am really glad you liked the interview and thank you for adding me to your RSS and sidebar! I really appreciate the positive feedback! 🙂

  5. December 23, 2009 01:57

    What a wonderful interview and idea. I haven’t really read a lot of indie stuff and will have to go to the store to see what they have!

  6. December 26, 2009 01:57

    I haven’t read many independent books in English! I read a few German ones but never ventured deeper into it in English. I so have to do that and I know how much Heather loves a few of them.
    Loved the interview and the the whole idea of the shop!

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