Thursday, December 9, 2010

What booksellers wish publishers knew

This may become a regular feature on the blog because I have a lot of pet peeves about the publishing industry. Like why those cardboard display dumps never lock in properly and always end up falling over.  And why pop-up books are the bane of a bookseller's existence.

But right now I want to talk about holiday gifts.  Yes, it's that time of year (and I'm sorry I just missed saying Happy Hanukkah to everyone who celebrates that holiday -- hope it was great!).  The bookstore where I work is in a mid-size Pennsylvania town, not a big city, and most of our customers tend to be grandparents buying books for their grandchildren, so a NYC editor may not be thinking along the same lines.  But here's my problem:

DARK, VIOLENT BOOKS 
DO NOT MAKE GOOD HOLIDAY GIFTS!

They may be fantastic reads.  Look at The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff, for instance, which is on my TBR pile and has gotten lots of good buzz.  Or look at You by Charles Benoit.  The latter blew me away.  Talk about compelling.  Reading You is like watching a car accident happen in slow motion. You're fascinated and you can't turn away. 


But does it make a good Christmas gift?  Hell, no!  Not to a sweet little old lady looking for something for her 14-year-old grandson.

And Paranormalcy by Kiersten White is one of the funniest, sexiest (without being raunchy) YA novels I've read this year.

I've tried to handsell it to plenty of people this month, to no avail.  Why? The cover makes it LOOK dark and scary.  If it had a brighter, lighter cover (think of something Evie uses that's pink with rhinestones), I'd probably have sold dozens. Grandmas want something that looks sweet, like Gimme a Call by Sarah Mlynowski.

And then I have a related problem.  There's a wonderful, inspiring book called The Running Dream (which I reviewed here).  It would make a great gift for any tween or teen girl.

But it pubs in January. 

January!  This is useless to me when I'm recommending Christmas or Hanukkah gifts for people.

When will publishers start listening to booksellers, the people in the front lines?  Humph. 

Okay, I'll get down off my soapbox now and stop acting like Scrooge. 

A hearty welcome to my new followers.  I'm glad you're here.  And I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas, or Winter Solstice, or whatever you celebrate.  The next two weeks will be my busiest at work, so I may not post as often (although I hope to be back on Monday with a hilarious MMGM recommendation).

What about you?  Anything in the publishing industry you want to rant about?

10 comments:

  1. I've seen many books with a pub date of December 28 (like Saphique, a book that totally would've been on my Christmas wishlist). What is that about? Would it wreck the publication schedule if those books were published one week earlier so people could buy them for Christmas? It's perplexing.

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  2. Haha I never thought about that, but it makes so much sense! Also, super excited to see you at the store Sunday!!

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  3. Stephanie -- I know! Sapphique would be a great gift for Incarceron fans who are waiting impatiently for the sequel! So true. Thanks.

    Frankie and Donna, see you soon!! Pray for decent weather.

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  4. I loved The Replacement but wouldn't give it as a gift to someone. I'm interested in You. I didn't really think about the cover of Paranormalcy. I read it because of all the buzz.

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  5. Hi Medeia. And thanks for your comment! Interesting that you felt that way about The Replacement. Yes, they're all good books. But most people looking for a gift want something light, or more uplifting. Luckily there are plenty of backlist books I can turn to if the new books scare my customers.

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  6. Oh, definitely make this a regular feature i loved this post!

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  7. Hi Joanne - What a pleasure it was meeting you today! And to chime in on your post - I read The Replacement and I liked it, but I was VERY disturbed by certain parts. Another writer friend and I had an email discussion about the parts we found disturbing - we are both mothers and that played an enormous part in feeding our 'problem' with the disturbing part. I'll be curious to see what you think after you read it...especially if you're a parent.

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  8. Hi K.M. It was great meeting you. Glad you stopped in! We definitely need to have your launch party. I would be honored.

    Interesting thoughts on The Replacement. I won't be reading it too soon. Still have to read Anna and the French Kiss, which I suspect I'll like better anyway!

    Please email me anytime at my gmail address. (it's JoanneRFritz)

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