Everything I know about book buyers I learned from myself. I am an intense focus group of one. I like hardcovers. I like paperbacks. I like digital books when I’m traveling, but I still need a book-book for those precious minutes in which electronics must be turned off. I like books I find in the street. (True story: I found a book about The Clash sitting on the street with a bunch of bulk trash and it became my husband’s Valentine Day’s gift.) I like the wonderfully random books in other people’s houses. I like library books and have the overdue fines to prove it.
Given my own poly-biblio proclivities, when I thought about releasing material in advance of my next novel, AND WHEN SHE WAS GOOD, I didn’t want to leave anyone out. So my publisher has bundled together three short stories – two previously published, one new one, called “Form 95” – and made them available as Hints of Heloise in both physical and digital formats. And in a nice twist – I am a crime novelist, after all – the physical book is free, while the digital book costs 99 cents. It’s my hope that booksellers will give Hints of Heloise to people who pre-order AND WHEN SHE WAS GOOD or buy it within two weeks of its Aug. 14 publication date.
But, ultimately, you know your customers best and should handle Hints of Heloise as you see fit. Reward loyal customers. Use it to tempt that book buyer who says he’s never, ever, ever going to read a book about a suburban everywoman who happens to be a high-class prostitute. Heck, spear it with toothpicks and serve it as a canapé if you think that’s the best approach. My primary concern is that I wanted to include all readers in this experiment. If there was a digital goodie, it had to be available in a physical format, too. Not everyone has an e-Reader. More importantly, my mother doesn’t have an e-Reader and that’s another intense focus group of one in my life.
So I hope you’ll share Hints of Heloise with people who are committed to reading Heloise Lewis’s full story in AND WHEN SHE WAS GOOD, or at least capable of being tempted. More importantly, I hope we can agree that book lovers shouldn’t be divided by the formats they choose. A reader is a reader is a reader and we can’t afford to lose a single one right now.
All my best, Laura Lippman
Anyone who has already reserved a copy will get a copy of Hints from Heloise. If you'd like one, reserve your copy of AND WHEN SHE WAS GOOD soon, while quantities of Hints from Heloise last!