I really do not often bitch about the publishing and bookselling end of writing, because, well, usually, I just don't see much point. But as Roc releases my novels in mass-market paperback, a very serious problem has come to my attention, and it's one that effects all novelists, and one that could seriously harm the sales of these editions of my novels. I have been aware of the problem for a couple of months now, but I've been so distracted by one thing or another and so haven't taken the time to talk about it. Then I received this email from Sandi Merrit:
Just a quick question. I preordered Silk from Amazon, and got it today. (Which I was very happy about) I wanted to order another copy for a present. But when I went to Amazon and put it in the search all I could find was the one published in 2002 and the one published in 1998. They don't even have the 2007 reissued edition listed. I checked twice to be sure I had not over looked it. I can order it from Barnes & Noble. But I thought I would just mention it, in cause you were unaware.
Now, here's what's going on. Like many traditional booksellers, Amazon.com is permitted by publishers to buy remaindered copies of books cheap and resell them at a discount over the cover price. You know when you can get a hardback cheap after the paperback is released, if you don't mind a red mark on the side? That's a remaindered book. And generally, I don't grouse about bookstores selling remainders, because it's better than the books getting pulped, and I know how expensive books are. Also, actual bookstores tend to have the newer editions on the shelves where you may find them. Amazon, on the other hand, is doing something rather different, and it is jeopardizing the new editions. Amazon offers their remaindered books as "bargain books" at a substantial discount, and they have begun making it very difficult to locate newer editions (because, it seems, they are more interested in moving their "bargain" copies). Hence Sandi's trouble locating the new edition of Silk. There have been days when I'm making a journal entry and need to link to one of my books, and even though I'm aware what Amazon's up to, I still have trouble finding the new mmps. I should also point out, in the case of the trade paperbacks of Threshold, Low Red Moon, and Murder of Angels, these are copies I should have had the opportunity to buy before Amazon, as guaranteed in my contracts, but was denied (see my entry for August 2nd, 2006 for details on that fiasco).
So...I need to do everything I can to make my readers aware of this problem. I should have taken action months ago, I know. Below are links to the new mmp editions of the novels. I would be very grateful if you would repost these links, or if you have asked someone to give you one of my books, that you take care to see they are directed to these editions. For one thing, they contain my edited, corrected, and preferred texts. They are not merely new and repackaged printings, and this is especially true of Silk and Threshold. These are the editions that need to sell if I am to remain in good standing with my publisher (a matter which, of course, does not concern Amazon), and if I am to continue to be able to sell future novels to Penguin (or anyone else). Amazon's "bargain books" may be significantly increasing my usually low return rates, and that is a Bad Thing (which I will explain in Pt. 2). Anyway, here are the links to the new editions:
Low Red Moon
As yet, Amazon is not taking preorders for the mmp of Murder of Angels, but I do ask that you please wait on the new edition, instead of buying used or remaindered copies from them. And no, I am not generally opposed to used books, when they truly are used books, and when a bookseller is not employing deceitful practices to give the "used" editions an edge over the new ones. Thank you.
This morning, Spooky and I dragged ourselves to the theatre at nose-bleed o'clock for a matinee of Chris Weitz' adaptation of Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass. I think it was the 11:50 ayem screening. At any rate, we found it genuinely magnificent, a beautiful, enthralling, and deeply moving sf/fantasy. A story of forces of dogma and repression seeking to end free thought and scientific discovery by any means necessary. Now, I'll admit, I have not yet read Pullman's novels, but I am aware of the changes that were made to the story for the screenplay. And no doubt this aided in my enjoyment of the film. But, I think this is a very good example of how a film can help a book's sales (the trilogy's sales have jumped upon the film's release), and that means that kids will be exposed to the purer and less diluted anti-Church message of the novels. And from my perspective, that's a Very Good Thing. Anyway, back to the film itself, yes, wonderful. I was delighted by so much that it's hard to single out any one element or performance. I will say it gets a big thumb's up for dragging a good new song out of Kate Bush, when I have not liked anything she's done since The Sensual World (1989). The cast is uniformly superb, and I found the SFX and art direction truly breathtaking (and that's a word I know I probably use too often, but I mean it). I greatly enjoyed The Golden Compass and have added the books to my "to be read" list as a result.
And please, don't get snarky about the film until after you've seen it.
Oh, and here's this clip via IGN that features (most of) the Kate Bush song, "Lyra":