On Thursday, Seattle-based Ada’s Technical Books became the first independent bookstore to sign on for an imprint with Inkshares, a new publisher that meshes crowdfunding with traditional publishing. Ada's could be followed shortly by Seattle Mystery Bookshop.
“With our model,” explains Matt Kaye, v-p of marketing and operations at Inkshares and former product manager at Amazon, “an indie bookstore can run their own imprint on Inkshares, called a Collection. Books published as part of a Collection are branded as that bookstore’s book." He continued: "Because we use crowdfunding, only books that reach their pre-order goal get published, so this creates no financial risk for the bookstore.”
Kaye views an Inkshares imprint as a way for indies across the country to deepen ties with their local writing community. It also provides them with a way to offer an alternative to Amazon’s CreateSpace. Additionally, of course, there is the additional revenue stream that the publishing work offers.
Because Inkshares handles editorial, marketing, design, and distribution (through Ingram), bookstores, Kaye noted, can focus on the books themselves. For the titles' covers and interiors, booksellers can have more of a say.
Alex Hughes, events manager at Ada’s said she saw the opportunity with Inkshares as "a long-term project. Our vision for the Ada’s Technical Books Collection is one that, like our shelves, will include a range of books that contain writing about science and technology, whether they be books of poetry, academic essays, kids books, or how-to-manuals.”
To promote the new imprint Ada’s put up signage in-store, hoping to pique the interest of local authors. Ada's is also considering the possibility of publishing authors from outside the Pacific Northwest. The store is launching a social media campaign to encourage people to check out drafts, manuscripts, and published works on Inkshares. Currently Ada’s stocks one Inkshares title, Yann Rousselot’s Dawn of the Algorithm.
For Seattle Mystery Bookshop, an Inkshares partnership may also be in the woks. “Publishing or republishing things that have gone out-of-print is something we’ve talked about for a decade,” explained store owner J.B. Dickey. Part of what appeals to him is that the store could become a publisher without setting up a press, or worrying about storing finished books.
Dickey also regards an Inkshares imprint as an opportunity to help midlist authors at a time when so much of publishing seems to focus on bestsellers, or self-publishers. “The trick,” he said, “is going to be deciding what we want to put our name on.”
Inkshares has published nine books to date, and has another 46 that have reached their funding goals. The company is also reaching out to indie booksellers with more than its imprint program. It recently joined the American Booksellers Association and will be including its first book in an ABA white box this summer, Gary Whitta’s debut novel Abomination (July), which received a starred review in PW.