Inkshares, a West Coast start-up that mixes traditional publishing with crowdfunding to determine which books it will release, is publishing its first bookstore-originated title. The move comes one year after the San Francisco start-up began actively courting independent booksellers.
The Papercuts Anthology: What Happened Here (July 12, $16.99 paperback original) brings together 23 pieces of fiction and nonfiction by authors who appeared at the two-year-old Boston bookstore, Papercuts. The book, the first volume in what could become an annual collection, is edited by the store’s media and events coordinator Katie Eelman and owner Kate Layte.
Although Inkshares offered bookstores their own imprint in 2015, only a handful have taken advantage of the opportunity. Tubby & Coo’s Mid-City Book Shop in New Orleans is the most active bookseller, with four books. One problem bookstores, and potential Inkshares authors face, is hitting the 750 pre-orders required for a book to be published, and to receive the traditional house treatment. Like crowdfunding’s best-known platform, Kickstarter, Inkshares operates on an all-or-nothing model.
Part of what enabled The Papercuts Anthology to hit the threshold was Inkshares’ addition of a “light” publishing option, Quill, in November. Books published under the Quill imprint are printed POD, rather than offset, and are not actively sold through Ingram Publisher Services (though bookstores can order them through IPS). The pre-order figure for Quill titles is also significantly lower, at 250.
For their part, Eelman and Layte are pleased to be publishing through Quill. “Inkshares and Quill provided the perfect platform where we could sell pre-orders to our community, while allowing us to have the artistic liberty to make [the book] exactly how we wanted,” Eelman said.
In addition to pre-selling 316 copies, Papercuts, in Boston's Jamaica Plain neighborhood, has heard from other indies interested in selling the anthology, including Skylight Books in Los Angeles, Square Books in Oxford, Miss., and Tattered Cover in Denver. Skylight manager Steven Salardino blurbed the book, calling it “an incredible anthology” that celebrates the store’s first year with something tangible.
Inkshares is also continuing to look for other ways to work with indie booksellers. Over 300 bookstores, including Fly Leaf Books in Chapel Hill and Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, currently carry Inkshares titles. And, this month and next, the press is planning to test an e-mail marketing program to encourage Inkshares users, which now number nearly 100,000, to buy books at their local independent. Based on the response, the program will roll out more broadly this fall.
“It’s a really important thing for us to have our books in indies,” said Matt Kaye, v-p of marketing and operations at Inkshares. “It helps deliver on the dream many authors have, to walk into a bookstore and see their book.”