We started 2 bookstores—and actually sell through hundreds, now.

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Q: “Why do you have two bookstores?”

ReadTheSpirit bookstore for Friendship and Faith
ReadTheSpirit Bookstore displays The Women of WISDOM book Friendship and Faith this way. (Click on the image to visit that bookstore.)

That’s a common question from readers who discover we are operating a ReadTheSpirit magazine Bookstore as well as a Front Edge Publishing Bookstore, which we launched in 2018.

Answer: Since our founding in 2007, we have launched two bookstores to display our books. However, the answer is more complicated than that: We sell through hundreds of bookstores around the world.

There’s an important value in buying your book directly through Amazon, rather than from the Front Edge Bookstore that’s part of this website. In fact, we advise readers to purchase through Amazon, because then they can post a review and receive an important “Verified Purchase” badge on that review. I reported on Amazon badges in an earlier column. In a nutshell, the Verified Purchase badge means a review is more likely to “stick” to the book’s front page and help influence future customers.

Of course, we do welcome all readers to peruse our two bookstores to find great suggestions for future reading or small-group discussions with friends.

Plus—we hope to hear from you directly, if you are interested in group orders beyond the usual scale of Amazon purchases. Our publishing house is known for our unique and flexible software for producing books—which allows us to easily adapt or customize books in group orders. So, if you are interested in that option, our best advice is: Contact us!

Selling Books through Hundreds of Bookstores

The real hub behind our book distribution is widely known to all retailers. Since our founding in 2007, all of our books are carried by the Ingram Content Group. Ingram has the industry’s largest active book inventory with access to 7.5 million titles. The markets they serve include booksellers, educators and all online retailers around the world.

Let’s consider Victor Begg’s 2019 book, Our Muslim Neighbors, as an example.

In addition to sales through Amazon and Barnes & Noble, Ingram distribution offers the book worldwide. For example, here in the U.S., you’ll also find the book available through the giant new-and-used bookseller Powells. And here is Victor’s listing at Walmart.

Then, let’s look farther afield! In South Africa, the big bookseller Loot lists Victor’s book. This past week, Loot was selling Victor’s book for 440 Rand, which is about $31.

Book Prices Vary Widely—and So Does Book Availability

As we travel around the planet, of course, book prices vary considerably.

Why? First, retailers are free to add their own markups and many do that. Second, some locations may require more shipping costs to deliver a book. Continuing to look for Victor’s book—we find two vastly different prices in a single Asian nation. In India, last week, Victor’s book was selling for 1,569 Rupees from one seller on Amazon’s Indian portal—but it was priced at twice that amount, or 3,243 Rupees, last week on India’s largest online bookstore Sapna. The difference in U.S. dollars is about $23 vs. $47.

If such a huge variance in pricing within a single country seems startling—so do the seemingly random messages about availability. On July 28, 2019, Amazon’s main listings for Victor’s paperback edition and for his hardcover both indicate that books can be shipped instantly. However, on any given day, Amazon may display a message that the books are “temporarily out of stock,” or “unavailable,” or that they take “1 to 2 months to ship.” The fact is that Ingram constantly supplies Amazon with new books almost immediately. Victor’s books should always be listed as ready to ship. Nevertheless, for some unknown reason, Amazon’s Canadian portal last week was telling readers it takes months to receive Victor’s book. That’s simply not accurate.

Our production manager Dmitri Barvinok wrote a column about these frustrating messages that can pop up—and how we respond to them so Amazon will update its listings.

Why We Launched a Second Bookstore in 2018

Front Edge Publishing bookstore page for Friendship and Faith
The listing for Friendship and Faith looks different in our new Front Edge Publishing bookstore, mainly because there is now a direct-purchase option. (Click this snapshot to visit the bookstore page.)

These random glitches in distribution messages from Amazon and other retailers—problems affecting all publishers, even the Big Five—are the main reason we launched our own second bookstore in this Front Edge Publishing website. 

Our original ReadTheSpirit bookstore was designed to point readers toward Amazon and other major retailers. That bookstore offers lots of information about the books and the authors, but no retail option to purchase books directly from our online magazine. Our new Front Edge bookstore was designed in conjunction with Ingram’s own Aerio distribution system. If we hear about readers who are frustrated by a random message about delays generated by other online retailers—we always can send them to our Front Edge Aerio-powered bookstore where they can directly and securely purchase books.

We know those books will ship right away because the Front Edge Aerio bookstore is a portal that plugs directly into the Ingram ordering system.

Q: Why Don’t We Simply Close the ReadTheSpirit Bookstore?

A: Every Monday morning, ReadTheSpirit magazine publishes a new weekly “issue” (a new lineup of front-page stories). That means we have published more than 600 issues since 2007. Over those years, thousands of other websites have added links to our stories—and to our bookstore. We serve our authors best by maintaining both online book displays.

We have not been adding new books to the ReadTheSpirit bookstore over the past two years, however, because we want to build awareness—and new links—to our new Front Edge Aerio display. Although different in design, that new Front Edge Aerio store has that reliable retail option that is lacking in our earlier ReadTheSpirit book display.

Think of our bookstores as just two of the hundreds of bookstores listing our authors around the world.

About David Crumm

David Crumm is founding Editor of Front Edge Publishing. Nationally, he is known as a veteran journalist—a top writer and editor—with experience both in the U.S. and overseas. He is based in Canton, Michigan, where he also serves as Editor of Read the Spirit online magazine. His columns on trends in media appear twice a month on our Front Edge Publishing website.