As everyone knows [except perhaps for the occasional aesthete, whose eyes (closed), nostrils (flared), and all other senses have been completely engaged these past several weeks in an attempt to gain a fuller appreciation of Proust's madeleine, or some other similarly all-consuming endeavor], today is Michael Crichton Day: the day that STATE OF FEAR, his new bijillion-copy instant-bestseller blockbuster thriller, goes on sale. Everywhere. In bookstores, big and small, chain and indie; in price clubs (Costco, Sam's...), mystery stores, drug stores, airports, news stands and pet shops all across America--perhaps even all around the world.
Popular as it is in blog-dom to bemoan cultural de-madeleinization, and book industry conglomeration, and brand proliferation, and literary marginalization, and animal exploitation for the purposes of a better facial lotion, is there any bookseller--
--is there ANY bookseller who is not glad, in a dollars-and-cents fashion, that today is Michael Crichton Day?
On one hand, there surely is no better example than Crichton of the shift in the industy's priorities--this is precisely the sort of book that gets the big push from today's publishers, inevitably (or so the argument goes) drawing resources away from other deserving titles. On the other hand, the presence of his new book in your store will, all by itself, draw 1 million percent more traffic into your store, today and in the weeks leading up to Christmas, than all the National Book Award nominees combined. And--in theory at least--some of those Crichton fans are going to take something else with them, too, as they wind their way to the cash register.
So, Dear Bookseller, tell us: What does Michael Crichton Day mean to you? Does the increased bookstore traffic on behalf of a blockbuster like STATE OF FEAR actually have a beneficial effect on sales of other not-blockbuster books? Even if your sensibility is categorically literary, aren't you glad, nonetheless? And if you're one of the few out there (or so I imagine) who is not glad to see Crichton's pub date appear on your calendar--not because you're a fan, necessarily, but because of the ka-chung of the cash register--does that mean that you've chosen not to stock the title?
"Writing is considered a profession, and I don't think it is a profession. I think that everyone who does not need to be a writer, who thinks he can do something else, ought to do something else. Writing is not a profession but a vocation of unhappiness. I don't think an artist can ever be happy."
PRACTICAL MARKETING [Courtesy Zornhau, 2005]
"They should put the 1st couple of pages up in subway adverts. Having read them several times, you'd feel compelled to try the book - if it was any good."
PLATE OF SHRIMP [Courtesy Alex Cox’s REPO MAN, circa 1984]
"A lot of people don't realize what's really going on. They view life as a bunch of unconnected incidences and things. They don't realize that there's this like lattice of coincidence that lays on top of everything. I'll give you an example, show you what I mean. Suppose you're thinking about a plate of shrimp. Suddenly somebody will say like "plate" or "shrimp" or "plate of shrimp" out of the blue, no explanation. No point in looking for one either. It's all part of a cosmic unconsciousness."
- ► 2005 (75)
- Happy Holidays & All That Crap
- Letters of Protest
- PART II: An Editorial Response
- Part I: An Entrepreneurial Proposal
- 'Here I Come, To Save the Day!' or; Dispelling th...
- A Love Letter to Booksellers
- In Defense of the Blockbuster--A Topic for Booksel...
- Inside & Out: An Editor's View
- You Can Trust the Man Behind the Max
- ▼ December (9)