Fallout from the L.A. Times decision to partner with Amazon for its Festival of Books website sales continued yesterday, with an increasing number of indie bookstores and small presses weighing in on the situation while deciding what action to take in light of a potentially devastating drop in consumer sales at the April event.
“It’s a betrayal of the Times’ readership, and of its Festival sponsors,” said Scott McAuley of Angel City Press. “The paper will make a commission on every book sold on the Festival website now. Beyond this insult, people who arrive at the Festival with books in hand for authors to sign will be doing Amazon showrooming – and probably not even realize they are doing so.” Warwick’s in La Jolla, Calif. made its own statement about the Times’ advertising department’s maneuver by canceling its annual sponsored bus for its customers from the San Diego area to Los Angeles to attend the Festival, to be held on the campus of the University of Southern California on April 12 and 13.
Maureen Palacios, president of the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association sent an email to the membership Thursday to assure bookstores and publishers that SCIBA is actively working to alleviate, if not correct, the situation. “We are outraged and disheartened, to say the least,” said Palacios. “There should be concessions available and corrections made.” Some of the ideas presented in her email include store or publisher website buttons for participating Festival authors, a discount to SCIBA members on the cost of exhibit space, a gratis booth for SCIBA at the event, and advertising in the Times for SCIBA events and California Bookstore Day in May.
Andrea Vuleta, SCIBA’s executive director, has received a steady stream of phone calls and emails from members. “Some had very specific questions,” she said, “such as whether or not to cancel their book orders for the Festival. We are really hoping for a good resolution to this, and waiting patiently to hear some positive news from the L.A. Times and Festival team.”