A Story of Two Books and the Marketplace

Filed in Gather Writing Essential by on October 24, 2011 0 Comments

For the past few months, I’ve been skirmishing with several giants. The battles began with the launch of my latest book, A View of the Lake, published by Lake Superior Port Cities Inc. this June. A View of the Lake is the saga of my husband and my impulsive move to the Lake Superior’s North Shore and how it changed us. The primary market for this book is the Twin Cities and greater metropolitan area. It’s also of interest to anyone who loves lake living, or dreams of following a dream. I was surprised, then, when my email box was inundated with people in the Twin Cities asking why they couldn’t find the book at Barnes & Noble. The publisher launched an investigation and learned that the regional buyer for B&N’s had ordered only 40 copies, one for each Twin Cities store. Those books were not in the stores but in B&N’s warehouse. Now, I don’t know about you, but I wander bookstore aisles and buy what looks interesting. If a book isn’t there, I can’t pick it up and decide to buy it.

Following the Barnes & Noble debacle, Amazon sent notices to all those who’d preordered A View of the Lake claiming the book was not available. “ How can that be?” I asked the publisher. The publisher was as amazed as I was. They been filling Amazon’s orders every week since the book was released in June. A search discovered that Amazon’s website had the book listed on two separate pages. One had the wrong ISBN number. Orders placed there could not be filled.

The good news is that those who have bought and loved A View of the Lake want to buy my first book, The Scent of God (Counterpoint 2006 hardcover, 2007 paperback). The bad news is that independent bookstores where I’ve been doing readings and signings for the past several months have been unable to get copies of The Scent of God. I knew books were available because I’d just ordered a full case of The Scent of God in soft cover from Counterpoint’s distributor Perseus. I emailed Perseus to ask why bookstores should find it difficult to get copies. Perseus did not understand why, either. They had 800 plus copies in their warehouse. I forwarded these messages to the concerned bookstores. “What distributor do you use?” I asked. The reply was consistent: “Baker & Taylor.” Ah, I thought. I’ll just contact Baker & Taylor.” I went online, found the Baker & Taylor contact for the Midwest, and sent her an email. She wrote back saying she only handled customers (i.e. bookstores and libraries). She’d been kind enough, however, to check on the matter and found that Baker & Taylor had received a delivery of The Scent of God at their regional warehouse in Momence, IL on September 9. If the regional warehouse had received a shipment, why couldn’t regional bookstores get copies?

Not knowing what higher up to contact at Barnes & Noble who might work with authors and publishers, I contact Perseus asking if they could help. They were, after all, the primary distributors of Counterpoint books. “Unfortunately, no,” they replied and suggested that the “accounts in need of your title are more than welcome to call in to customer service and create an account with us for direct delivery.” So I fired off another email to the concerned bookstores. By now, the bookstores are probably sick of hearing from me. And what of those other independent bookstores who might want to order? I guess I’ll just have to leave it to their ingenuity.

Here’s a question for all you authors out there. Do you have a similar story? Were you able to resolve the situation to your satisfaction? And, if so, how? There are probably others like you pulling at their hair and wondering what to do next.


© Beryl Singleton Bissell 2010

The Minneapolis Star Tribune named Beryl as a “Best of 2006 Minnesota Authors.” Her book The Scent of God (Counterpoint NY 2006,2007) was a “Notable” Book Sense selection for April 2006. Her second book, A View of the Lake was released June 1, 2011 by Lake Superior Port Cities Inc.


About the Author ()

I am a writer and a columnist living on the North Shore of Lake Superior. My first book, The Scent of God, was released by Counterpoint and was a Book Sense Notable in April 2006. That same year I was named a "Best of 2006 Minnesota Authors."

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