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By Allison MacLachlan
December 5, 2011
6:06 PM

Filed under News

Thomas Allen and Cormorant launch e-book initiative for indie bookstores

In early 2012, Thomas Allen Publishers and Cormorant Books will roll out cStories, an initiative that will make digital short-story “singles” available for sale through independent booksellers’ websites.

The stories, all Canadian-authored titles from Cormorant and Thomas Allen, will include previously published short fiction as well as new writing. Sold as EPUB files for $1.99 each, they will be exclusive to independent booksellers who sign on for the project.

“This is our way of helping independent booksellers be involved in digital retailing,” says David Glover, marketing manager at Thomas Allen, adding that another main goal is author promotion. “We know if people begin to read these stories, they’ll want more.”

Both publishers have partnered with Transcontinental Media, which will manage downloads and digital warehousing. From an independent bookseller’s website, shoppers will be able to click on an icon that leads offsite. Revenues will be assigned to the bookseller that directed the customer.

Roughly 50 per cent of revenues from e-book sales will go to the publisher, with authors receiving a portion depending on his or her contract. The remaining 40 per cent will go to booksellers, with Transcontinental taking a 10 per cent cut.

There is no cost for booksellers to join, and the only technical requirement is for participating retailers to have a website.

Marc Coté, publisher at Cormorant, sees cStories as part of the solution to the challenges indie bookstores face in the digital age. “It’s a really good opportunity for publishers to work with independent booksellers in a new way, developing a new market,” he says. Even though the e-book sphere is expanding, he adds, independent booksellers still “have an enormous role to play.”

Côté sees the short stories as a particularly useful trial form for readers because they’re inexpensive and easy to fit into busy schedules.

So far, Côté says, bookseller response has been mixed, with some holding tight to print books and others embracing the idea of cStories. Eleanor LeFave, owner of Mabel’s Fables in Toronto, points out that many e-book buyers already go to booksellers first. “They pick our brains and use our expertise to the benefit of e-book sellers,” she says. “Anything to direct that revenue back to us is really important.”

Although cStories will focus on short fiction at the outset, Thomas Allen and Cormorant see the project as the beginning of what could become a larger initiative.

“One of our [long-term] goals is to have full collections of short stories be available for download,” Glover says. “I think it’s very exciting, being able to find another vehicle to promote great authors and great writing.”

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