now incorporating the Sudbury Hill and Wood End Times

Monday, May 25, 2009

Willesden Herald: New Short Stories 3: Amazon.co.uk

Only 1 left in stock--order soon (more on the way)

Amazon.co.uk has been displaying that message for a couple or three months now, since they sold one copy. They order them in two's, so they "still have 1 left in stock". The US Amazon.com store has sold no more than seven in three months. The book is outside the top one million books, according the the Amazon sales position. On the face of it, that means they have more than a million other books that sell more copies than New Short Stories 3, which contains the best short stories of the year (from 650 submitted to our competition). Why do we bother? The whole book publishing business is a dead loss. The books that people buy from W. H. Smith are not written, they are extruded from machines to satisfy the public's demand for vacuous pap.

Ossian

2 comments:

Nick Holdstock said...

I think the main problem is distribution, i.e. getting books on the shelves of Waterstones and W H Smiths. We run a small press in Edinburgh called Forest Publications (3 books to date) and have found that we can get sometimes get local Waterstones to take our books at much better rates (they also let us do promotional events). This means the books end up on the shelves without us having to pay the usual crippling rates. We haven't sold massive amounts, but they are selling, and I guess it's good for the books to be visible. The only other way we sell books is by doing lots of readings in wherever will have us. Strong drink is usually present.

Ossian said...

The book has almost recouped its setup costs (not counting anybody's time) on direct sales. However, the three copies beside the cash register/checkout at the Willesden bookstore are still three copies, two months on from when they were put on sale there. That is in spite of the fact that they have pride of place in the Willesden bookshop and have the title Willesden Herald on the cover. There have been favourable reviews and very high praise for the content but virtually nobody among the general public (aside from sales for events and readings) buys any, either from the Pretend Genius shop or from Amazon. The book has been publicised on almost innumerable websites, had a sparkling launch event, contains superb stories that are both thought provoking and "a good read" and yet - nada. Even publishing houses going the traditional route (Salt, for example) are on the rocks. It goes back to the W. H. Smiths of this world - they are like parliament, like banks: rotten. They push overrated and lowest common denominator pap, such as the thin cardboard forcings of Stephen King and Cormac McCarthy, and crypto-Mills & Boon fantasy docu-novels full of florid and tiresome gibberish.