Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The death of brick-and-mortar + brain meanderings

A few weeks ago, while wandering the interwebs, I ran across an excerpt from a novel.  It was one of the more engrossing excerpts I've ever read.  I was hooked in a single paragraph.
To anyone who would say, "I don't know what that agent expects to learn from a single excerpt, they need more than that!"  I have to respond that (no offense, but) you aren't reading or writing the right books. 

I'm not suggesting that we'll all find the fulfillment we desire from the same book, or even popular books.  To each his own!

So anyway, as is typical of my wandering nature, I continued browsing, not even taking note of the book's title or author.  But days and even weeks later the excerpt haunted me.  And I had no way of recalling it.  All I knew was that it was written very tight third person (my favorite), and it was fantasy (my favorite), and a guy nearly kills himself with his own axe and falls over a cliff.
By now I'm obsessed with rediscovering the book.

After a series of googlings, I come across a link to where I find THIS link.
I proceed to peruse.

Number One: GRRM, GoT.  Debatable for #1 but I do enjoy.  Apparently I have something in common with this list-maker.

Number Two: The Blade Itself, Joe Abercrombie...  Now this looks familiar. I go to Amazon and click "LOOK INSIDE!"  What, to my wandering eyes should appear but THE BOOK I SEEK!

Now, I've been reading free Kindle books (for research or just because I'm part masochist)
A Short History of the World, H.G.Wells
Dracula, Bram Stoker
Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri
The Art of War, Sunzi
The Lost World, Arthur Conan Doyle
Paradise Lost, John Milton
Treasure Island, Stevenson

and I've been reading GRR Martin for my fantasy fix, although I grow a bit weary of the generally pessimistic atmosphere.
But this excerpt was fresh!  And it broke rules!  Like sentence fragments and detached phrases!  And stuff!
I realized I needed to have this book more than anything.

(here comes the part of the story that actually initiated this post) (and for the rest of this to make sense, you must know that I'm cheap... Like so cheap it might be a disorder.)

I need to have this book physically, not electronically, for the whole experience.  Fantasy books are the most likely to have maps and images.  You understand.
I call Barnes & Noble.  They say they can order it ($17) and have it by the weekend and (in a typical sales-push, considering I never told them to order it) they ask "Would you like us to contact you when it arrives?"  I say sure.
I look at Amazon. It's $10 brand new.  But shipping will be longer than the wait from Barnes & Noble.  Impatient-me and Cheap-me are now battling with light-sabers.
I talk to the library at the college where I work.  They say they can inter-library loan it and have it in a week or two.  "Unacceptable," says Impatient-me.  Even Cheap-me agrees.
So today Barnes & Noble emails me.  "Your book is in!"
Clever-me saunters into the room, earning distrustful glances from Cheap-me and Impatient-me.
I call Barnes & Noble. I tell them my situation.  I ask if they can do something better with their price, considering my options.  They say no.  Clever-me backs, grinning, into the shadows as Angry-me storms out of nowhere and rips the sales clerk's head off over the phone, thereby solidifying my Amazonian choice. 

At first I felt like a hypocrite for not diving at the opportunity to support an author.
Then questions began to grow roots in my mind.  Why on earth would I pay seven more dollars?  For convenience?  For Barnes & Noble's power bill?  For their rent?  To employ that snotty sales clerk?

If you can tell me a logical reason why I should pay more and support Barnes & Noble, versus simply supporting the author, I'm all ears!  If not, I think we should all get comfortable with the idea that this generation will live to see the extinction of brick-and-mortar media retailers.


  1. For one, you're paying the regular price, which means the publisher and the author win, versus Amazon winning simply for having a lower price. (Mind you, I love Amazon.) When it's something you really love, you really shouldn't mind paying full price. In fact, I tend to do that with that kind of stuff, to show my full support or somesuch.

    Anyway, I'm amused that you completely overthought that. If you visited bookstores regularly, you would've seen that book ages ago. Let me next tell you about The Raw Shark Texts! John Dies at the End!

    1. So what you're saying is that Joe will see a larger percentage from the sale if I purchase through B&N? I trust you, Tony, but I need this verified.

      I've seen a preview for John Dies and the End... (Movie preview) and it looked NUTS.
      (Which is right up my alley)

    2. There's more money flowing. More money flowing always means that the creator sees more money. The only way to give the creator more money is to give them money directly. Amazon doesn't make anything with all those discounts. They sell at a loss with the correct belief that they'll make up for the loss by providing a lot of stuff for people to buy, so more buying covers what they've taken away from their initial profits. It's the same with every discounter. If Amazon isn't making what it should the publisher isn't either, and so they have less money to spread around to people, say, like the creator. It's like buying a used book. The creator gets nothing off of that.

    3. Aha. I do resist buying used books.
      And it makes sense to think that if Joe's books are making B&N money, B&N will be happier to deal with Joe's publisher in the future and create more shelf space and better advertising for him. Then publisher is more likely to deal with Joe in the future; thus creating rewards that aren't always as direct as placing dollars in Joe's hand.

    4. Exactly. It's been interesting to watch B&N shrink in recent years. Five years ago it had a pretty expansive collection. Today, and perhaps because even it's realized the negative impact the Nook has had on sales, B&N is less able to support eclectic tastes. It's the real trick of capitalism. When it works everyone benefits. When it doesn't, well...

    5. Just wanted to revisit this a year later to say that authors typically get more of their ebook cut. Whether they're traditionally published or otherwise.
      Far more.
      Bye, B&N.


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