I was interested to read an article in The Telegraph online today, about bookseller Waterstones offering exclusive extra material in books, and according to The Independent online, they have signed exclusive deals with some authors for a version of their latest book with extras, which can only be obtained by buying from Waterstones (or other bookshops that authors may have contracted to)...
Which authors you ask?
"Anyone who buys the new Joanne Harris paperback Peaches for Monsieur le Curé from Waterstones will find it contains an extra chapter not included in copies sold elsewhere."
The hook in this case is that "The chapter, which Harris says can be read either as an epilogue or as “the prologue to an as-yet-unwritten story”"
(Both quotes from The Independent article.)
They mention other recent exclusives from Claire Tomlin, author of the biography published last year about Charles Dickens; and Alexander McCall Smith who included and extra short story in a booklet with his last book.
Now forgive me for cynicism, but the mainstream publisher/author has a big advantage with a bookshop- they can get their books distributed to all the branches, and are guaranteed to be stocked, and Waterstones would probably let themselves be walked over if the writer was able to go instore and do book signings.
E-book buying is increasing, and the book shops are coming up with these ideas because so many are buying their books digitally.
Why go to a book shop looking for a particular book only to find: they don't stock it; they will have to order it and it will take a week, or even more- so that would be another trip; when with a few clicks of a mouse, or press of buttons/symbols, that book can be on your e-reader and ready to start reading within a few minutes..It's the one big advantage that e-books have over a bookshop.
So what can self-published / e-book authors do to compete? In fact, do they need to compete?
It is as easy for them to include an extra short story, or the first chapter of their next book too.
If Waterstones want to make it more attractive to buy a solid book from them, then they'll need to do a lot better...
So, what do you think about extras to attract book buyers? And what extras would tempt you?