Thursday, November 5, 2009

Elephants are Dancing

No, that's not the title of my 27th attempt at writing a picture book (although, come to think of it, that's a great idea. Hmm.

Sort of a cross between Giraffes Can't Dance and Hilda Must Be Dancing... only with elephants).

And it has nothing to do with a Republican winning the governor's race in New Jersey.

No. It's actually a snippet of a quote from Michael Powell of Powell's Books, as quoted in The Oregonian (and quoted again in Shelf Awareness on Oct 26, 2009).

The full quote: "It's nice to find a high perch when elephants are dancing."

That's by far the most creative way I've heard of describing the book price war between Walmart, Amazon, Target and Sears, and how bookstores should cope. You can read more about that craziness here.

Will this be the nail in the coffin for independent bookstores and chains alike? I don't think so. Those big-box stores are deep-discounting only bestsellers, and only online. Bookstores can offer so much more than that. And I expect this pricing war will be temporary. Bookstores will survive. What do you think?


  1. I agree and I LOVE Giraffes can't dance! Its a favorite of my kids at the library!

  2. First of all, "elephants are dancing" sounds to me like a great picture book - in verse, even. It has a lyrical, bouncy rhythm to it that kiddos would love. Get crackin', ma'am! (I never remember - should the apostrophe come before or after the comma there?)

    Second of all, GIRAFFES CAN'T DANCE is a hands-down rollicking favorite here at Chez Wheedleton.

    And finally, I agree. If the deep-discounted books are only select ones, and only through select venues, I don't see long-term damage to indie bookstores (though it may give them a bit of a pinch for a while).

  3. Thanks, ladies. Yes, I think most bookstores are planning to ride this out. Wal-Mart et al can't possibly keep this up forever. Those bestselling authors really should step up and complain.

    So, Kim, you really think I should write a picture book called Elephants Are Dancing? It does have a nice ring to it. Hmm...

  4. Yes, Joanne. Yes I do. Run with it! See where it takes you.


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