His latest book comes out tomorrow, and he's basically promoting it as a "banned" book because Barnes and Noble, along with most indie bookstores, are refusing to stock it.
Their refusal to carry the book is not based on its content, of course. It's really only based on one thing:
Amazon's the publisher.
Oh, hey! Amazon's my publisher, too.
I haven't talked about this much, but now I find myself wanting to, at least a little. So here it is:
When my agent and I were considering the offer from Amazon Children's Publishing for SANCTUM, we talked about the pros and possible cons of it. I'm a compulsive information seeker, and so I did a lot of research. I don't go into anything with my eyes shut. Instead, I take a look at data, evaluate my options, and make my decisions. This situation was no different.
At the time (July 2011), B&N hadn't yet announced their official policy of not stocking Amazon pubbed books. In fact, I don't think they even had an unofficial policy at that point, at least, not one they'd stated publicly. HOWEVER, there was abundant evidence suggesting they might go in that direction. Borders hadn't stocked B&N published books, after all. Lots of indies were blogging and getting quoted in news articles about how they had no intention of stocking Amazon pubbed books. Twitter was full of ... chatter. As it always is.
Still, it seemed like an intriguing opportunity. I took a good, hard look at what Amazon was offering me for the series. I thought about my options. I talked it over with my agent. And I made the call.
My book isn't in B&N (though you can order it from them online). It's a Kindle exclusive. I don't know if any indies are stocking it, and I respect their choice not to if they don't (I'm grateful if they have).
And yet: I don't regret the choice I made. I've had great support from my publisher. Also, I've seen Sanctum's sales numbers from its first month after publication, and they please me.
Would I like my books to be in bricks-and-mortar bookstores? Of course I would. But: I made my choice. So did Tim Ferriss. And bookstores will make theirs. That's what it is: a choice. A business decision that comes with its own pros and cons. I think it's clear Mr. Ferriss knows all of this, though. He's a smart guy, an expert self-promoter with a huge platform, who has developed a savvy and potentially innovative marketing plan for his book. I doubt there's as much outrage here as there is cool-headed strategy. I really wish he hadn't appropriated the term "banning", which brings with it some pretty significant meaning. But again, I suspect the decision to use it was made because the term is fairly emotion-laden.
Getting published is all about these decisions. Authors decide if they'll accept offers from publishers, or they decide to self-publish, or they decide to shelve projects and move on to the next. They decide how they market their works. In the constantly shifting terrain of the publishing world, each and every one of those choices comes with its own opportunities and consequences. It's tricky!
And ... that's life, right? We all live with our choices, and very few of them are easy black and white, particularly because we are so intricately connected to one another. Given that complexity, I have loads of respect for people in any part of this industry who remain focused on the legitimate strengths and advantages of their choices rather than focusing on the disadvantages and blaming them on the choices of others. But I guess that's a choice, too.
I'll be spending time with my family this week, so I'll be back next Monday. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!