Dostoyevsky Wannabe books in physical bookshops. Is it possible?

Given that a large percentage of Dostoyevsky Wannabe books have been print on demand, there has often been confusion over how physical, brick and mortar bookshops might be able to stock them.

Isabel Waidner's DW books on the shelves in Brick Lane bookshop, London. Image credit: Kaye Mitchell.

See below for the answers to some frequently asked questions on this subject. These answers are mostly in relation to books produced via our print on demand publishing model. Any future books that we might (or might not) publish via more conventional methods will likely not prompt these questions.

We want to stock your books in our bookshop but you're not on our database? How do we get them?

If you're in the UK you can send an email to contact @ dostoyevskywannabe dot com to let us know which books you want and having agreed the price we'll give you a paypal address to pay us. We're (literally) a zero-budget operation so we're afraid you have to pay up front but you won't pay shipping in the UK because we'll handle that cost. So that's cool, isn't it? To be honest though it's easier just to get them on Amazon as there is no more possibility of returns through us than there is with Amazon.

If you're not in the UK you can only really buy from us via Amazon (it'll save on shipping costs anyway because the books will be printed in whatever country you are in - if you're in the EU or USA anyway). If you spend over a small amount on the books - it's £10 in the UK, for instance - then shipping is usually free with Amazon, as you perhaps know. A money saving tip.

How much do they cost? Is there a retail discount?

We usually try and keep our titles between £4-6 (or whatever exchange rate equivalent) so because they're so inexpensive there is no retail discount. You can generally RRP our books for about £9.99 or less (whatever you want to pass on to yourself and your customer is up to you to decide). We don't make any money off what you buy and sell so the difference between the price that you buy our books at and what you sell them for is yours to keep. We're happy to make nothing on the deal because, even with our idiosyncratic 'publishing' model, we still want to try to support bookshops the best we can.

For shops who worry that they'll be selling our book at our higher price when they're on sale for a lower price on Amazon then frankly we're surprised that you're concerned because most if not all books, whoever publishes them, whether it be larger publishers or smaller publishers, have a tendency to be knocking around on the internet at a lower price than you will find them on the high street. We're not saying we agree with this state of affairs but we didn't create it.

Why can't we find you on our database? Do you not care about bookshops?

See above. The reason we're not on your database is because we are just two people who, on the publishing side, are running a zero-budget press (whilst the design side of Dostoyevsky Wannabe is commercial, for the publishing side, that zero-budget is literal not figurative).

If we were middle-class people and not penniless working-class people, we would be able to risk a print-run for each book and link up to a distributor but even something like Ingram Spark would cost us around £60 per title to use their print on demand service (and it doesn't necessarily link to the database systems of all bookshops anyway, as we understand it). We produce books via print on demand with KDP, or with any other print on demand service that becomes useful to us over time, it is the only way that many of the books that we publish via our classic model can exist.

We're massive bookshop fans and we want them all to stay open and to sell loads of independent experimental literature and everyone to be happy. It's not by our design that print-runs and distribution are expensive and that all of the structures cost more money upfront than we are able to risk.

Do you do book returns?

No. We're aware that firm sales are often a problem for book shops so our only advice is don't order hundreds, order a few perhaps.

Can you send some books to us and then we'll pay for them via an invoice?

We did that for a while but we basically don't have the money to front that kind of distribution. We'd love to get readers picking up our books in bookshops but with our print on demand publishing model, we can only offer you the deal where we make nothing and you make something so as bookshops you can continue to be able to pay your electricity bills and earn something for yourselves. Shipping is free in the UK (and free in the USA and EU if people in those places order a few copies via Amazon).

It's a question of an invoice though? We need an invoice for our records?

If you're in the UK and you choose to pre-pay us the full cost of books (shipping is free - remember) via PayPal then we can send out an invoice marked paid for information purposes for your records. If you're not in the UK - sorry we can't help with that.

More Info:

Here is an article from  The Bookseller which talks about Dostoyevsky Wannabe's innovative/problematic (delete as you see fit) print on demand publishing model. The article is written by Terry Craven of Desperate Literature (an amazing independent bookshop based in Madrid) and, although we don't feel particularly 'dirty' (but we get his point), it makes a decent stab at outlining the idiosyncratic way in which we run at least one of our publishing models.