Thursday, June 18, 2009

biting the hand that feeds me

Here's where things get tricky.

I'm a huge fan of independent bookstores. Huge. Their staffs consists of smart, bookwormy, geeky people (and that's a compliment) who know everything and put me to shame. Who could collectively go on Jeopardy and beat Ken Jennings' record. I love the hospitality of indy stores. They say "Welcome! Won't you come in!" They practically sing Mr. Rogers' "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood." I love their size--not too overbearing. They've also been incredibly supportive of me. FAKING IT is in three indy stores in as many states. And counting.

I am equally a fan of the tactile book-- the smell of the pages, the feel of the cover, the way they stack like skyscrapers, or stand tall like trees. I love book covers--portable art, and skimming pages with fingertips. I even love the word book. I love the phonics of it, the look of the letters.

To say nothing of reading them, of course.

Before I released FAKING IT on Kindle, I asked around about it. Do you like it? Is it really the bookseller's biggest enemy? Am I biting the hand that feeds me by releasing my book on Kindle? Most of my own bookwormy friends said that owning a Kindle didn't diminish their love (or purchase) of the tactile book one iota -- but it did make traveling w/ them more convenient.

And I gotta admit: I've sold the same number of books for the Kindle in two weeks as I have of tactile books in eight months. I'm sure a lot of that has to do w/ the price. I'm able to sell my Kindle book for under two bucks, a bargain. How can I say no to that when it's allowing me to sell books and, even more importantly right now, find new readers for FAKING IT, which eventually leads to an audience for ORDINARY WORLD? To quote Tom Hanks' character in You've Got Mail (who, incidentally, was the owner of a mega-chain bookseller), "It's not personal; it's business." A copout, maybe. But hey, I ain't making Stephen King numbers here.

My twin brother works for a bookseller, and I know that one of the reasons why he loves his job is simply because he loves being surrounded by all the books. There's an actual comfort to that. The older I get, the more I understand this feeling. I look around my apartment, and I see books spilling out of my bookscase, piling up on my coffeetable, cluttered on my counter, stacked on my end tables in my bedroom, etc. It's a pleasant mess.

I'll continue to plug my Kindle sales because it's making me money and building an audience. And what I need more than anything else is an audience. I'm hoping that one day I'll sell enough Kindle copies to actually buy a Kindle. But I'll never give up on the tactile book, and my first love and true devotion is still to the indy bookseller.

But I have to hedge my bets. It's business.

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