Pissing Off Indies: The New “Business” Decision

Author Barry Eisler posts several emails (and several responses) from an exchange with an independent bookseller who was a bit dismayed that neighboring chain bookstores not only jumped a retail release date for Eisler’s latest, but let Eisler sign stock. Eisler sees nothing wrong with signing stock at multiple stores, chain or indie, and while some have quibbled over the bookseller’s “tactlessness,” I think some of the tactlessness can also be applied to Eisler.

Asking an independent for directions to Barnes & Noble, as G reports, strikes me as a particularly inconsiderate move, akin to tap dancing on a bier at a funeral. It is, after all, the indie booksellers who are offering the kind of passion (some would say economic foolhardiness) and word of mouth that gets people excited about books.

To ostracize an indie bookstore on the way up might propel you into the big leagues, but if that reign of glory ends, rest assured that those who run indie bookstores have long memories. (In fact, about six months ago, a clerk at a local bookstore told me about the shabby treatment that a certain high-profile author gave her at a reading from six years ago. Because of this, she, along with the other clerks, have gone out of their way to discourage people from buying this author’s books and have not given any of the books any preferential table placement. This is what happens when you treat clerks rudely.)

It seems to me that any author doing promotion or signing stock should be particularly sensitive to indie bookstore temperaments. How difficult is it really to listen, pay attention and be considerate to those who are actively selling and promoting your books? Particularly when the majority of author events occur in indie bookstores, not big box outlets.

[RELATED: Lee Goldberg has more thoughts.]

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One Comment

  1. I used to be a bookseller and would love to know who that bookseller was talking about, so that I, too, can boycott his/her books. And I was thinking, how helpful would it be of Ed to provide the name of that author! …and then I remembered a wee something called libel. But if you could do it without legal repercussions… hmm.

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