Saturday, December 24, 2005

Bookselling 101

When The Week published a nice little review of Dog Culture a few weeks ago, I emailed my publisher to let them know that Amazon, Powells and other stores had completely sold out of their existing stock. The only copies available were the paperback at Barnes and Noble online. The hardcovers were completely sold out everywhere. Amazon listed the paperback as available in two weeks--not the kind of language that inspires a sale. And, in fact, rather than selling new copies, they sold more than thirty used copies.

My publisher assured me: they'll reorder. Two weeks later, they still list the book as shipping in two weeks and now Barnes and Noble is out of stock too. The fact is--judging by the listings--no distributor in the country has the book stocked either. How do I know this? Well, this is how online listings work: if the book is in stock with the retailer it "ships in 24 hours". If it is out of stock with them but in stock with a distributor, it "ships in two to three days."

So this stalemate could go on indefinately--for weeks, or months, who knows--and then the retailer,who hasn't had any stock to sell, will look at the sales record and see that the book hasn't been selling.

When I was on tour with The Kind I'm Likely to Get I ran into this problem. Stores were trying to get copies of my previous book, The KGB Bar Reader. The warehouses were rejecting orders, refusing to fulfill them, because there were no books. Then, when books were finally available, Barnes and Noble didn't reorder because they hadn't sold any copies in the previous months.

But none of my own stories are as maddening as one that occurred to a friend of mine. Pubhished by a major house, he sold 80 copies at a New York City Barnes and Noble. A few weeks later I went into the store and couldn't find any copies. Their computers insisted they had two. No one could find these two copies anywhere. Would they reorder? I asked. "Well," they said, "it hasn't sold any copies in the past two weeks."

"How could it?" I said. "You don't have any copies to sell?"

And that's when they pushed the panic button located beneath the register.

Friday, December 23, 2005

James Frey has a few things to say about The Dogs Who Found Me

Pitbulls pitbulls pitbulls, and a man, like me, who loves them.
Alternately brutal and sentimental, like the lives of the dogs he
rescues. A very very cool book. --James Frey, author of A Million
Little Pieces and My Friend Leonard

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Never leave the house without a camera

For a while after I returned to New Orleans, I didn't want to carry a camera around with me, because there were too many other things to deal with beyond playing disaster tourist. And every day I'd see some odd little detail that I wished I could capture on film. Then I spent a few days with the camera in my bag, just in case. But that habit grew old too. A few days ago I almost grabbed the camera on the way out the door, but I left it behind, thinking "What could I possibly take a picture of now?"

Here is what I could have photographed:

1. A few blocks from my house, a mile long train carrying nothing but new, shiny FEMA trailers for as far as I could see.

2. On the way home, passing the exploded propane tank warehouse, I spotted two people and a giant marionette among the ruins, performing I-don't-know-what while a third person captured it on video.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Signed copies...

Some lunatic is trying to sell a signed copy of Dog Culture on Amazon...for $220.00.

I'll happily sell a signed copy for something closer to $10. And it will be personallzed too.

And, if you really have 200 dollars burning a hole in your pocket, I'll sign twenty copies. Maybe even 22.

Rabbit on the loose in New Orleans has neighborhood message boards that were incredibly helpful in keeping displaceds residents informed while evacuated. Lately, unfortunately, the messages have degenerated into idiotic, racist rants (from just a few people) addressing their concerns over the possible return of men in baggy pants. Occasionally, things return to normal:

A post from last night:
Missing a Rabbit?
Late last nite I actually saw a RABBIT on Rampart near Montegut. It was tan and pretty large, with upright ears. It's possible it was wild, but I've never seen a rabbit in our area before. I had a pet rabbit for five years when I was a kid-thought this one might be someone's lost pet. I tried to call to it (don't laugh!) but it made a right on Montegut toward the river.

The response:
My rabbit
That crazy rabbit took up with my 80 lbs Doberman a couple of years ago and has been living in my yard. The rabbit surived Katrina under the house but has gotten rather lonely since the dog had to be put to sleep due to old age back in June and now with fewer people and stray cats in the area lately, he roams the neighborhood more. He even survived the rogue animal rescue groups. So don't worry about him, he's a true survivor.