We live in a
country which has lost half its bookstores in the past ten years. Many of
those left are struggling.
In the interests
of encouraging a heathy and diverse publishing ecosystem, which is what
this fight with Amazon is about, I wanted to share with you an idea from
Daniel Handler, a.k.a. Lemony Snicket. I feel sorry to be always
sending you letters that are, by necessity, heavy on negativity. Here is a
positive idea -- a fantastic and easy way to support your
favorite bookstore, delight your readers, and sell more books.
Whether or not
you are an author published by Hachette (as I am), you may lately feel as
if you are engulfed in a rather unpleasant flood -- as if the fate
of your books is whirling dreadfully out of your control, battered by the
waters of some enormous South American river, the name of which I cannot
remember at the moment. While all this fierce sword fighting
rages on without you, you may find yourself feeling even more hapless and
hopeless than authors usually do, while your local independent
bookstore struggles with a similar feeling that it's some sort of jungle
As a tonic,
allow me to suggest a new program, cooked up by assorted interested
parties and named, after some tipsy debate, Upstream. The idea
is to connect authors with their local independent booksellers
to offer signed books as an alternative to, say, larger and more
unnerving corporate machinations. Upstream was test-piloted
this summer and is now spreading steadily, like optimism or syphilis.
How does it
work? Easily, hopefully. Here are some numbered
1. Choose and
contact a bookseller close to your home. If you cannot find
one, the good folks at Indies First, coordinated by the American
Booksellers Association, can be of service. They are quite
excited about the launching of this new and hopefully enormous campaign.
2. The bookstore
will order and sell your books; you will sign them. Perhaps
you'll stop by at regular intervals with your pen, or perhaps you can
convince, with cake or gin, the bookseller to come to you.
3. Both you and
the bookseller will promote this arrangement as best you can, spreading
the word not only about an exciting source of signed books to your
readers anywhere in the country, but about a program anyone can
join. Feel free to tell your publicist you're
participating. Upstream should be in full swing in time for
the holidays, when signed books are good gifts for loved ones and
distance acquaintances alike.
rescue us all from strife and worry? Of course
not. But the hope is that it will remind both authors and
booksellers of their local, less monolithic resources, and improve
general esprit de corps at a disheartening time.
aka Lemony Snicket
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