Monday, March 08, 2010

To Buy or Not to

I've ranted before about authors who complain about people who buy used books, pointing out that there are lots of good reasons for readers to buy used books, not the least of which is to test out an author who they then can head over and buy new if they enjoy the process. So, you can just imagine how I feel to discover that an author is pleading with readers to buy her newest book in specific bookstores so that she can get onto the New York Time bestseller list. Now, I get that being on that list is a big deal. It's kinda like an Oscar, in that New York Times Bestselling Author title gets to follow you forever. Publishers like it, readers who scan the list looking for the next thing to read like it. It has meaning.
Does that mean you can't be a successful author if you don't make the list? Of course not. And the list is somewhat shrouded in mystery, it is based on some stores, but not others, may or may not include online sales, but probably doesn't include e-books, and so on. It also has to do with sales that week, much like other lists, so in weeks when people buy less books (what is wrong with people?) it takes less to hit the top. There is not publishing equivalent of a gold record where if you hit X number of sales over time, then you win. And so, I can see how it would be frustrating to look and see that Author X who has sold the same amount of books as you (or so you imagine - because those numbers are often hard to come by) might be on the list and you are not.
And certainly I can understand educating your readers, telling them that sadly some sales "count" more than others, that leaving an Amazon review might be really helpful even if they didn't make their purchase from Amazon.
But (you knew that was coming right?) there's a line. When you suggest to readers that they cancel their pre-orders so they can buy your book where it will help you more, it's a little over it. When you tell readers that their sales don't count because they bought it online or in Canada then you are shooting yourself in the foot. Because when you tell your readers that they bought your book wrong, you know what happens? They don't buy your books. Anywhere.
H/T to Dear Author for the link.