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June 29, 2011


Scott Nicholson

This isn't the only industry on the ropes due to technological change. I was in the newspaper industry for 15 years, where the ax cut half of us. I was lucky enough to still have a job when I voluntarily left to become a full-time author--thanks almost entirely to ebooks and Amazon.

Bookstores, you've done nothing wrong. Nothing. We've loved you. But we can't save you any more than we saved the woolly mammoths from the Ice Age. We can keep you on life support for a while by spending extra, but we didn't deliberately choose to have evolution, technological change, and a revolution in the way we consume words and ideas. Truly, it's nothing personal. I wish you well in your next career, and who knows? There are plenty of opportunities in the new era in which your skills may translate very nicely.

Scott Nicholson
Trad/small press/self-pub author


I support your right to stock or refuse to stock any book you like - it is your store.


1. I think you're blaming the wrong 'bad guy'. The policies of the "Big Six" NYC publishers are endangering indie bookstores far more than the existence of Amazon.

2. You do business with HarperCollins (a division of Newscorp - read: Fox News) whose corporate sins are far more egregious than Amazon.

3. You are going into business with Google - a company that helps the Chinese government censor the news, and worse, turned over the identities of dissident journalists to the same government. The fate of those dissidents is horrifying to even contemplate.

So it would seem the principles of integrity are somewhat fluid in your decision making.

Joan Milne

What if, as rumored, Stieg Larsson’s estate produces a fourth book of his and chooses Amazon to publish it? Will you decline to sell it? And say the next Stieg Larsson, some genius kid living in the middle of nowhere, is exulting right now in the publishing deal he’s just been offered by Amazon. Will you ignore his book as a matter of policy, keeping the news of a great new mystery author from your customers? In another post on this blog, you say you stopped carrying books that you and your staff loved in large part because the author provided his readers Amazon links. In sum, fiscally impractical items like the Agatha Christie book aside, your store offers the best selection of crime books from authors or publishers--who aren't in cahoots with Amazon.

Emme B.

JB thanks for your response to my message. I think I didn't make why I was saying what I was saying clear. You can stock whatever you want -- whatever fits your business -- whatever you think your customers will like -- and whatever fits the genre you support. I'm all for it and think it's a great business model.

You seemed to be saying Amazon doesn't give good recommendations based on their business model. This may or may not be true. What is tripping me up is that you are casting a strong judgment about these recommendations when you are saying you won't recommend authors who are published via Amazon no matter how much you like or respect their work. I just thought it was a little pot/kettle.

Sorry I didn't make that clear -- again, it is very much the whole of your business to make the right stocking decisions -- but if you don't recommend books published by Amazon no matter how much you think your customers would like it -- that's where I ran into issues with what you were saying.

I really wish you the best of luck and hope you are able to build on your business and thrive in the years to come.


--You need to support authors and not publishers. They are the ones who matter.--

Actually, it's the readers who matter. Booksellers should be primarily concerned with their customers. While e-book sales are fast outpacing traditional book sales, the bottom line is there are people out there who are still willing to plunk down their hard-earned cash for a book. Those are the people you need to listen to, not authors -- God only knows there's another hungry author nipping at the heels of the latest darling, and, frankly, there are fewer unique voices out there than you authors would have us believe. Authors are as much a victim of the me-too virus that has all but destroyed American ingenuity.

Don't bite the hand that feeds you...

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