In a move that seems a victory for the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association, the Los Angeles Times is in the process of adding IndieBound buy buttons to the Festival of Books’ website author page, which initially sent consumers exclusively to Amazon.
SCIBA members were caught off guard last week when the Times’ marketing team revealed the show's homepage, which did not offer consumers the option to buy books locally, through IndieBound. The indie booksellers then protested aggressively, individually and through the auspices of SCIBA, argued that they have faithfully exhibited at the Festival for years on end, while Amazon has never participated in the Festival of Books, now in its 19th year. This effort, it seems, has shifted the tide.
“The L.A. Times is also an IndieBound affiliate,” said Times communications director Hillary Manning. “Our creative team is testing adding the relevant links to the Festival of Books site, and we plan to make them officially live within the next couple of days.”
“It’s good to know that SCIBA members are now considered on the same page, literally, with Amazon,” said executive director Andrea Vuleta. “We want to make sure that consumers have the choice to buy locally. IndieBound is a perfectly good alternative to Amazon.”
Vuleta was not surprised by the vociferous reaction to the situation by SCIBA members. She was, however, "surprised by the response from those who aren’t members,” she said, “including authors and small presses across the country.” As to why the Times reversed its decision, Vuleta believes the Festival of Books team, led by Maret Orliss, ultimately “stood up for us, and addressed our concerns.”
SCIBA president Maureen Palacios said that the Times also agreed to provide a booth to the organization at the Festival to promote the Southern California indies as well as hand out information about the first California Bookstore Day, to be held May 3, 2014. In addition, the Times will be helping out with a broader social media presence for Indies. In a letter to SCIBA members yesterday, Palacios wrote: “Thank you to all who voiced their concern and showed their passion. Many people took action and shared their objections regarding the Festival of Books’ ill-advised buy buttons pointing only to Amazon. Now, the IndieBound buttons are in place.”
Editor's Note: The Los Angeles Times disputes the contention that adding the IndieBound buy buttons was a reversal of its strategy. A spokesperson told PW it was always its plan to add other buying options to its site.