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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Mark Twain and Subscription Books

We have authors putting 104,000 ads in the New York Times. We have authors who are starving and cant get their books in Barnes and Noble or just about anywhere else. We have authors who don't even bother and self publish on KDP and take their royalty checks Amazon sends them. We have Big Publishing screaming from the rooftops about the evil empire. We have the digitization of books following the digitization of music. When was the last time you bought a CD?

The first thing that hits you when you walk into Barnes and Noble is how does anybody sell anything anymore. There is just so much. And of course you cannot find your own book as an author unless you are the one percent who posted that ad (paid for by the wealthier authors) to complain about Amazonian treatment. And it is ruled by the few. We probably have the same gap in publishing that exists in the rest of the country. The few reap their profit while the many choke on the crumbs.

And yet the more things change the more they stay the same. Did you know how Mark Twains Books were first sold? They were not sold in stores. His books were not deemed worthy. They were sold by subscription services. In other words they were sold by mail and by door to door salesman. Subscription books were not deemed worthy of review then but of course that didn't bother Twain. He sold into best-sellerdom and beyond.

And now as the powers that be hack it out we are turning back to those subscription days. In a time when we are watching on our own individual screens our individual shows we now get our individual books recommended to us by Bookbub and Book Guerrilla. It is the future and it is now. Small bookstores will be that individual as well. Loyal patrons relying on their bookseller to hand sell them a book.

Mark Twain would get it. He surely would.

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Books by William Hazelgrove