You should see my list of books to buy. It has hundreds of titles on it. I am always, always, always on the search for new writers to fall in love with. Sometimes, I just read a blurb about a new book and I put it on my list until my next binge buy. I love the feeling of “discovering” someone new. If I really like a book, I look for it in the bookstores and I do one simple thing to give it some love–turn it so the cover faces out.
I’ve been doing this for years because I empathize with all the new writers out there (and, yes, I hope karma will work in my favor when my book comes out). Hundreds of books get published every year and only a handful are read by masses of people. Lots of people don’t realize how much bookstore placement affects readership; and lots of people don’t realize that much of bookstore placement is dictated by money. Big publishing houses pay for those prime displays at the front of the store, those end cap slots, those “best of” categorizations. That’s all fine and dandy, but remember that big publishing houses aren’t exactly risk takers. They will put their money into sure things. First-timers are unlikely to get prime shelf space.
There was a great little article on TheAtlantic.com about this very issue. The author, Susan Coll, director of events at Politics & Prose Bookstore in D.C., says:
“Turning a book face out is an act of tremendous power, or so it feels when you are working at an independent bookstore at a moment that has major chains shrinking and Amazon wreaking havoc with publishing’s already fragile ecosystem. In a bookstore, you can decide, unilaterally, without having to ask permission or sit in an hour-long meeting, to simply face out Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance because, well, because it’s one of your favorite books…”
(I suggest you click through to read the whole article. It’s interesting).
Most of us don’t even visit bookstores all that often anymore. Admittedly, I buy 90% of my books online. But, next time you do venture to a bookstore, think of an author you love and turn their cover to face out. You’ll feel good about it, trust me.