Will indie authors and musicians catch the print and vinyl wave in 2019?

Robert Reed works at Geo's Music store, which sells LP vinyl records and compact discs featuring an assortment of musical genres in downtown Youngstown, Ohio by Carol M. Highsmith
For fun, I searched for vinyl record images at the US Library of Congress. The most relevant search return was this photo by Carol M. Highsmith. The caption read: “Robert Reed works at Geo’s Music store, which sells LP vinyl records and compact discs featuring an assortment of musical genres in downtown Youngstown, Ohio.”

There appears to be a print and vinyl wave in progress if news reports are accurate. Books and vinyl records are holding their own, with print book sales increasing last year according to Quartz. This is good news to me, at least on the books end of things. I love books. I declare I won’t buy another one every time I dust the shelves of books in various rooms of my house. Then I go buy another one. Or two or more. As for vinyl records, I haven’t jumped on that option yet, but I might. The latest report I could find claims vinyl record sales rose notably in 2017. What does all this mean for indies? 

For authors, I think it’s a good sign, if you put the right book on the market. For instance, if you have insider info on politics, you might do well because many libraries will automatically order such a book. Same goes for Harry Potter type fantasy. If you’re tapped into those who control your local library, it’s possible you’ll get support as long as you don’t offend the wrong folks. Library orders and orders from certain nonprofits and schools help drive book sales.

The Quartz article pointed out a double digit increase in book sales overall:

“We’re buying books, and we’re favoring the kind you can borrow, lend, or drop in the bath: In 2017, print book sales were up 10.8% from four years earlier. (Between 2016 and 2017, however, e-book sales actually dropped 10 percent.) In October of this year, book sales were at $699 million, up by $50 million from a year earlier.”

The same article pointed out something else that might benefit authors—an increase in indie book stores. Sometimes it’s easier to get support from those indie stores if the buyer likes your work. I speak from experience.

On the vinyl wave, it appears here to stay. As 2018 dawned, vinyl record sales comprised more than 10 percent of physical album sales. Could having your work on vinyl if you’re an indie help sell more units? It’s my experience that indie musicians’ supporters like something tangible, whether it’s vinyl or a CD.

As 2019 commences, we’ll see what happens in the marketplace. What’s important is what happens in your marketplace and that depends on whether what you create strikes a chord with your supporters and potential supporters.

(Kay B. Day/Jan. 2, 2019)

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