To me, the idea of following what everyone else is doing is absurd. The trick is to avoid the mob. If the herd is going in one direction, I’ll go elsewhere.
There are an unlimited number of ways to promote a physical store. From street flyering, to holding readings—inviting “name” writers even-- which pays networking benefits, to continual special sales and events, to getting customers including local celebrities and/or literary celebrities photographed with the product being sold. It allows the ability to use ballyhoo. There’s more excitement to a store, and to physical products, than to just one more web site or ebook. More excitement means easier getting journalists interested. You can also better promote the authors themselves, if they’re charismatic, through personal appearances. The idea is to promote not just the product—the book, if you will—but the person behind it. There’s also the promotion of the idea of a new kind of bookstore—which this will be—at a time when people will be eager for that very thing, with the chains failing. It’s one way of many to leverage the store viz-a-viz writers, publishers, and all of literature. The store will be the access point for these people. They’ll want to get into it. This is just scratching the surface.
One goal is to reach and develop an entirely new audience, and I’ll do that through zeen/graphic novel hybrids.
Granted, ebooks seem to be the thing. I may jump on that bandwagon and delay my offline plans.
I’ve found that working online can be a crutch. It’s an excuse for not doing real hard work that promotion requires. I say that as someone who’s been working online the last so-many years, with meager results, while my offline activities were amazingly productive.
How long before the ebook market is saturated with too-many choices?
Finally, take a look at how Lady Gaga made it. She used social media, sure, but merely as a landing place. Success came from incessant personal real-world work.
There’s the counter example of Amanda Hocking, poster girl for e-books. It’s an amazing story—enough to make me reconsider the possibilities involved.