April 20, 2012
APRIL 20, THE ROAD – I’ve noticed that a lot of you have a strong aversion to buying my book on Amazon.com. This isn’t a problem; you can also purchase the book from Buy Olympia. But for the record, I have no problem with Amazon. Meaning, I view Amazon as one of many tools at my disposal in the selling of books, similar to pens, coffee, hotels, interviews, paper money, Square.com, and the interstate highway system. So that we’re clear – I don’t lose any sales or feel any physical pain when you buy my novel from Amazon.
I am, however, fascinated by the evolving perception of Amazon’s villainy. With last year’s Borders bankruptcy, Barnes & Noble has emerged as the bricks & mortar underdog against the encroaching world of online book sales. Amazon has twenty times as much cash as B&N. But that still leaves Barnes and Noble with $820 million. I increasingly get the impression that they are viewed as the struggling mom & pop book chain to Amazon’s looming corporate behemoth. It’s a comic dynamic, and an unsustainable one.
Is this a bad time to publish? I don’t think so – it’s just a period of rapid flux, full of new risks and unforeseen rewards. I’ve treated this trip as an opportunity to do covert market research whenever possible. On the flight out, I & (Mugger publisher) Anthony sat next to a very nice Ohio lady who’d brought a kindle and an iPad with her. We grilled her about her digital reading preferences, both of us grateful for the peek into the reading habits of a bona fide heartlander (later the conversation shifted to her support of Rick Santorum, and I put on my headphones and let Anthony continue the chat solo).
The Washington Post just ran a profile of me. It’s in Sunday’s Lifestyle section. I’m not sure which lifestyle this book supports, but I feel strongly that it must be one of the good ones.