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June 15, 2005

As Far As I Know, I'm Not on the List...

by Ron Hogan

Michael Cader ran an item in Publishers Lunch yesterday about Neil Gaiman's response to a bookselling fan about advance readers copies of his forthcoming Anansi Boys:

"HarperCollins is being really stingy with the Anansi Boys proofs... Only reviewers & press can get them. I think this is somewhat of a punishment to those of us on the frontlines selling your book. One of the best perks of being a bookseller is getting to read your favorite author's books occassionally before most people outside of the business. And then getting to handsell it when it comes out."

Gaiman points out that "this has less to do with wanting to punish booksellers than it does with the tendency of many of the people getting proofs to make an additional perk for themselves by eBaying advance proofs unread, creating an instant secondary market in proofs." Cader was unable to get an official response from anyone at Morrow, but anecdotally I can chip in and say that it was impossible to get galleys of Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver, and I was explicitly given "the eBay reason" at the time. Other than the fact that Potter books don't get out at all before pub date, I can't think of any other examples of non-embargoed books that are kept under such tight lock and key; then again, it might just be a case where books doled out in that fashion simply aren't on my radar. Cader had some swell commentary on why he thought the approach was wrongheaded, but of course I had to go and delete the email. Sorry.

(UPDATE: In today's newsletter, Cader gets a callback from Morrow's associate publisher, Lynn Grady, and reports that "about 80 percent of the limited 450-copy run [of Anansi Boys galleys will go to booksellers; and retailers who can't be accommodated this time around are likely to at least receive early pre-pub finished book mailings." So that should work out nicely.)

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