Thursday, May 8, 2014

There are Still Plenty of Buy Buttons Around for Hachette Titles--A New Book Roundup.

So what do you think is behind the "stock issues" that Amazon is having with Hachette titles? At least when they were fighting with Macmillan, they were up front and said we're simply taking off the buy button, right? They are probably trying to increase the fees and the marketing allowance percentage that they get for the books. Or maybe they are demanding that the Hachette supply more free ebooks for Amazon Prime. I guess this is what happens when shareholders are disappointed in your numbers.

Or maybe there's more investment costs than they thought to set up the drone delivery program.

But maybe publishers aren't really getting that much for this privilege. After all, it is said that Amazon isn't the greatest for browsing. So if I know, that for example, I want a paperback edition of Cuckoo's Calling, will I read something else because it's not available or will I find one of the other 7000 sites that can supply the book to me? I used to think this was the case, but it sounds like a lot of folks out there are so emotionally connected to Prime that they might not use another outlet.

Honestly, I have no clue. Needless to say, we bookstores are just sitting back, trying to stay out of the fray. Though now that Amazon is featuring free warehouse tours, what happens when an attendee spots a book on the tour that they were just told was not available?

In lieu of these developments, it seemed appropriate to do a roundup of new and noteworthy titles from Hachette Book Group.

When I see a major American History title in spring, I assume it's for a Father's Day display. American Spring: Lexington, Concord, and the Road to Revolution is by Walter Borneman, author of several previous works of nonfiction, including The Admirals. This is classic stuff with several less known details added--Revere's ride (including another that took place in 1774), Lexington and Concord, Bunker Hill. Here's David Shribman talking about the book in The Boston Globe. I apologize for any sexism in that assumption?

Another question? Will Jeff Bezos make the review disappear in The Washington Post? Have I just given him a great idea?

Robin Roberts has certainly seen* her share of drama? She came out as a lesbian, faced a battle with cancer, and now this. Can't Amazon at least give America's most beloved newswoman (well, I think so anyway) a break? Her memoir Everybody's Got Someting, written with Veronica Chambers. On NPR's Weekend edition, it was noted "In it, she describes her 'somethings' — her breast cancer and a rare blood disorder, which required a bone marrow transplant. Roberts shared her treatment and recovery with her Good Morning America audience. 'As my mother would say: 'Make your mess your message,' Roberts says."

The Blessings, by Elise Juska, is a novel of a sprawling Irish-American Philadelphia family with a nice quote from J. Courtney Sullivan: "A family so real in their sorrow, joy and complexity that they could be yours or mine...bursting with wise observations about the nature of love and belonging." Stewart O'Nan compares the book to Elizabeth Berg and Alice McDermott. I should definitely show this to a few of my booksellers who might have passed this by.

Why is it so easy to manipulate publisher supply but so difficult to edit obviously malicious or false user reviews?

From the Twelve division comes Randi Davenport's The End of Always, a story set in turn--of-the-century small-town Wisconsin (Waukesha in 1907, to be precise). A young woman is determined to not follow in her mother and grandmother's footsteps and marry a violent man, but alas, the older fellow keeping an eye on her might be trouble. Apparently the story is inspired by actual events, Kirkus Reviews called this a "gritty yet hopeful story." I don't know if Davenport has Wisconsin connections; her official bio doesn't mention any, but sometimes they are just hidden away, in fear of being too regional.

I'd like to give a shout out to a book from the Mulholland imprint, and Austin Grossman's paperback edition of You seems just the ticket. I've still got Mel Morrow's rec from hardcover. "Take a step behind the curtain and meet the Great and Powerful Video Game Designer! See what a wizard does in his free time! Go on a date with the most powerful woman in the multiverse! Bike across town in the sunshine, fantasizing about your latest Commodore 64 coding triumph! YOU get to be the hero, designer, and the spectator in his fun new novel by video game designer Austin. This is a fun, insightful read that takes on the importance of video games in our lives and culture, and the outcome of the quest for the ULTIMATE GAME."

I'm being silly of course, but I do have one question to ponder that seems to make sense. When will an activist investor or two start trying to unlock the value in Amazon? Parts of the company could be incredibly profitable, instead of throwing off those laggard returns that we've seen for the last twenty years.


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