And after a furor by chain booksellers

It would be lovely if people would learn to read what was written, or would perhaps not so closely identify themselves with their jobs that they believe a hostile comment about a bad corporate business practice was a hostile comment about themselves.

For the record, then, to those of you who are chain booksellers:

Read what I wrote, dammit, and not what other sloppy readers tell you I wrote. Someone actually had the balls to state that I hate chains, putting words into my mouth that were never there. Idiot. And to state baldly that I said chain booksellers are evil, which I never have and never will. (Actually, there’s a term for what that writer did when claiming I said things I did not say, and it isn’t “idiot,” and it would best be explored by lawyers.)

No, I don’t think chain booksellers are evil. Good Christ!

But the practice of buying books to the net, WHICH IS WHAT I WAS DISCUSSING, AND ONLY WHAT I WAS DISCUSSING, is destructive of careers and books and futures, and chain employees’ employers at the highest level are involved in that practice. If dedicated chain booksellers can overcome the corporations’ bad business practices by overriding computerized ordering in order to keep good books from disappearing from the shelves, then do it. We’ll cheer them for it. Having watched many wonderful series that started to great acclaim and died because of the practice, including several of my own, however, I can tell any reader now that however many chain booksellers there are out there who are actually paying attention, handselling, putting favored books on Our Picks Shelves, and everything else, it still isn’t enough to stop the tide that has killed so many wonderful careers.

As yourselves, what DID happen to Barry Hughart, and why didn’t anyone save him? Or Alis Rasmussen with her earliest works?

I can tell you exactly what happened to THE WORLD GATES, and ARHEL, and THE SECRET TEXTS.

Ordering to the net.

You may, if you like, call me a terrible person for having said it (though be goddamned careful not to put words in my mouth that I didn’t put there myself when you do it), but that does not make what I said untrue, and it does net magically transform selling to the net into some brilliant bit of corporate goodness. It is what it is.

All articles in this series, in order:




11 responses to “And after a furor by chain booksellers”

  1. Nick Avatar

    Wow, I’m commenting on post from 2006, in 2019, so no idea if you’ll actually get to read this. But I hope things went better for you since then.

    1. Holly Avatar

      Hi, Nick. I went indie. So yes. Things went better.

  2. Chassit Avatar

    Holly, don’t let those guys get you down. Some people just, er…have lapses in judgement. Heh heh, I’m trying to more polite (getting a jump on my New Years Resolutions).

    Because I have no Indie bookstores in my area (the ONLY bookstore we have is Walmart) I will start buying from one of your online indie bookstores instead.

    Remember that some people are just stupid (drat breaking the Resolutions before the New Year is even here) and we can’t fix stupid people. I hear scientists are working on vaccinations to prevent idiotic descisions, but until then we will have to deal with them.

    Have a good Christmas, Holly.

  3. BookLover Avatar

    This morning, at the bottom of page 275 of Talyn (second reading in six months), I closed the book to think about some things. That happens to me freqently reading a Holly Lisle fantasy. It happened to me in the first reading, and also happened to me reading The Secret Texts, and reading Hunting the Corrigan’s Blood.)

    My stream of conciousness this morning went something like “Gods this is so beautiful; how can it not be a best seller; this should be required reading in high school — no make that college lit., no how about college poli. sci; wait it’s psych; no, religion; I’ll never live long enough to write this powerfully (blue shot of admiration mixed with a tinge of green envy); won’t someone tell me why Talyn hasn’t won an award, make that several awards; who do I know that should read this book? everyone. no one — people don’t want to take the time to think, be challenged, my RR (religious right) friends would scour me for giving it to them (the sex), my other friends aren’t readers (won’t someone please turn off the abomination of desolation — television?); I sent a copy to the best novice writer I know (in Australia) and begged the closest book store (sorry: a B&N) to get more and not spined out (I bought the second of three on Nov. 28th)….

    Probably I shouldn’t post this, as my morning thoughts are very ADHD and not for public consumption, but I’m going to go with impulsiveness and do it anyway — lectoris caveat.

  4. khazell1 Avatar

    From the “inciting” post: To understand why chain bookstores are the Villians of Bookselling, first you have to understand how books are sold right. So we’ll look at the Heroes of Bookselling, independent (or indie) bookstore owners and booksellers.

    I guess if I read something that described my employer as a villain and my employer’s competition as heroes, I might get a bit defensive and wonder what was being implied about my own moral standing. That doesn’t strike me as sloppy reading so much as a perhaps unanticipated side-effect of rhetoric intended to deservedly praise the hardwork of indies.

  5. arrvee Avatar

    Sounds like you need some sensitivity training, Holly. We just can’t allow you to speak your mind and possibly damage somebody’s self-esteem. After all, that’s what diversity is all about.

    Wait a minute. Illogical. Please explain. Norman, co-ordinate.

  6. scottbryan Avatar

    Have some eggnog Hol.

    And don’t let the bastards get you down.

    Have a good holiday and a Merry Christmas!

    If you’d like some snow I can ship some in a picnic cooler.

  7. Liz Avatar

    Alis Rasmussen is Kate Elliott. She was able to come out about that a while back.

  8. gerrilynn Avatar

    Oh, ignore the internet comments. Sorry. Misread that. At the same time, the Barry Hughart stuff still stands. His was a contract, not a sales issue. and the Alis Rasmussen thing–I’d be worried about how much of a push she got since she published a trilogy in one year. Not to mention–what was the market like for those sorts of books at that time? Sometimes the market is just down on one particular sub-genre.

    To say it’s the net that makes or breaks an author is to simplify the issue beyond recognition. The market and the quality of work plays a bigger part. If the book doesn’t make word-of-mouth, it’ll eventually fade. And word-of-mouth will make or break it, not the net.

  9. gerrilynn Avatar

    Well, Barry Hughart stopped writing because of contract issues, IIRC. He wanted more money, the publisher didn’t want to pay, and he just stopped writing because of something in the contract. Not to mention he stopped publishing long, long before there was an or a…

    Alis Rasmussen published in 1988, and then published a trilogy right in 1990. I don’t see anything else under that name. Did she switch to a pen name? If so, which one?
    Either way, the books still pre-date or, or any other massive internet book ordering site.

    I do see a lot of thank-yous to Alis Rasmussen, though, which indicates she’s still talking to people like Kate Elliot, Catherine Asaro, and Katherine Kerr.

  10. peggy Avatar

    Holly – you might want to reread and update that last paragraph. It seems to me that “… that does not make what I said true…” should be UNtrue, and also “… does magically transform…” should be does NOT magically transform.

    Either that, or I *really* need to double check my reading comprehension, and you can feel free to call me an idiot or worse.

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