Saturday, February 12, 2005

Bowshots, Pt. 3: Costco Redux

Angry Young Man had this to say:
"And a word about Costco: They carry a very specific type of book and are incredibly price sensitive. They are not a bookstore, and not just any book can be sold in there. The same is true about your other mass market retailers. This isn't a matter of publishers marketing poorly. It's a matter of the stores' business models. They aren't going to take your first time author's literary novel unless that book is a TV book club pick. They just aren't."

Mad Max has this to add:
Furthermore, if they DO take a first-time author's literary novel, or indeed any book by someone not yet VERY well known, God help that author. Dollars for donuts, those books won't sell, and they'll come back in droves, and that novel's sell-through will sag under the burden of those returns. Yes, there are lots of discerning Mom-and-Dad Costco shoppers (present company included)--but that's not where we shop to find literary fiction. It might be where we pick up a (deeply discounted) copy of the new Michael Crichton or the new Tess Gerritsen as a Christmas gift or a Mother's/Father's Day present--or, perhaps, a literary bestseller like the newest from Phillip Roth or Margaret Atwood. But we buy them there because they're cheap. Discoveries? We make those at our local brick-and-mortar, or at Amazon, or on the recommendation of a good friend or librarian.

Mary O'C. (unaware of the potential wamma-jamma Max would preface her comments with) responded to AYM's comments with some cheery good news:
"A friend of mine, Jane Guill, has just been told her book [NECTAR FROM A STONE]--a serious novel by a debut novelist--will be stocked at Costco. It hasn't been published yet (due in March), so it's not a TV book club pick... yet! I realize this is the exception, not the rule, but it does happen."

To which Max, in hopes of counter-acting his wamma-jamma, adds LINKS, knocks wood, and offers reason for optimism:
At first glance, this novel does seem like it might be a good candidate for Costco, despite the fact that Ms. Guill isn't (yet) a household name. Meaning no disrespect to the quality of the writing, it's not being presented as a literary novel, but rather as a rich and well-research historical drama with romantic overtones. Could work; hope it does; and hope, too, that Ms. Guill (or Mary O'C.) will let us know if it does.

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