PANDEMIC is out one week from today, and as always when I have a new release coming out, my kick-ass fans are asking me a two-part question: what helps you the most, buying from Amazon or buying in a store, and which is better for you, eBook, hardcover or audiobook?
Short answer: pre-order the hardcover.
(if you’re seeing me on tour, buy from that bookstore that day, please)
Why? Two reasons. First, all pre-sales “roll up” to the first week of official sales, which is the number reported to the New York Times bestseller list. Second, because the book will probably not be in your local store on the day of release, or even the first week of release. That means your purchase won’t count toward the authors efforts, and it might mean a wasted trip for you.
For up-and-coming authors who really go after the bestseller lists, fans not only want the book, they want to know how they can help you win. Most fans don’t give a crap about the vendor, don’t care about the difference between brick-and-mortar and online vendors, they just want their favorite authors to succeed.Most authors I know (including me) would love to drive traffic to brick-and-mortar stores, but the sad truth is that most physical stores are overwhelmed. Publishers in the US release around 300,000 new print books every year. That is a massive number. Bookstores usually focus on one thing: making sure new releases by existing bestsellers are on display. Stephen King’s new book? That will be on the shelves on the day of release, if not earlier. An up-and-comer like the hard-working Chuck Wendig? Not so much.
“I’ve gone to my local Barnes & Noble twice now since my latest, THE CORMORANT, was released, and it hasn’t been on shelves either time,” said Wendig (pictured at right). “Nor have other new releases by other authors that came out same day as mine. Some workers at the big chain told me on Twitter that part of it is that the books are probably there — they’re just in the back in a box, and haven’t been put out on shelves because the stores are frequently understaffed.”
Chuck is a successful author, but he’s not a household name. He did what a lot of authors try to do: drive traffic to brick-and-mortar stores so his fan base could get their books and help these bookstores stay in business. Bookstores matter, a lot, and every one of them is struggling to some degree. But, those fans that Chuck sent to the store? Out of luck.
When I released ANCESTOR in 2011, I put most of my energy into telling my fans to get the book at a physical store on the day it was released. I thought I’d be a hero for the bookstores and contribute to their cause. Know what? I got hundreds of emails and Tweets that said the book wasn’t in stock. Most of the staff didn’t even know it was out. A few staffers found it in the back of the store, not yet on shelves, but even more stores didn’t even have the title in their computer system. All of the effort I put into driving store traffic? All wasted. I didn’t get those first-week sales, and — more importantly — I had wasted the time of hundreds of my fans.
“That’s why pre-ordering is incredibly valuable,” Wendig said. “Stores have limited shelf space and limited staff. They have to make decisions — sometimes hard ones. That decision is easier when people call the store and want to pre-order. That sends a message to the stores that this is a book worth stocking. It also sends a message to the publisher and, by proxy, the author. Best of all, it’s a win for readers, who get to have their book when they want it, from the store from which they want to buy it.”
So, if you want to be part of PANDEMIC’s success, you should pre-order. If you want to contribute to your local economy and pre-order from a bookstore, awesome, but make sure you ask them if it will be in on Jan. 21. If they can’t promise you that, then as a consumer your best option is to buy from someone who can promise that: namely, Amazon.
WHAT FORMAT? HARDCOVER.
The hardcover counts the most toward the New York Times bestseller list. eBooks count some, but Audiobooks do not. The hardcover bestseller list counts just that: hardcover sales. The eBook list is counted separately. Bajillions of eBooks sell every day, Placing a $10.99 eBook on that list for someone at my level of sales is impossible. But, there aren’t as many hardcovers out there, which means I’m in the running. So if you really want to help the cause? Pre-order the hardcover, and do it today.
That being said, what matters most to me is you getting the book in the format you want. It’s your money and your time, end of story. I’m here for you, you’re not here for me.
*If you’re seeing me on tour, books bought from bookstores will count. But, best bet is to pre-order the book from that store so its waiting for you when you get there (in case they don’t report the sales in time to help with the bestseller effort).