Thursday, June 02, 2011

In and Out: The reality of bookstore inventory

I frequently pick up ARCs (advance readers' copies) of titles at work, and this one caught my eye some months ago. It's such an interesting premise: a woman recovering from divorce and loss of custody of her children rights herself via finding moving to a house which belonged to Nabokov, finding a manuscript, and opening a male whorehouse (crazy!). And it also caught my eye because the author is also a debut author writing contemporary mainstream.

ARCs are first-come-first-serve at the store, so I grabbed this one, back in probably December? I still have yet to read it (my to-read stack gets bigger and bigger every day) but it's been sitting in the back of my mind for months.

Lo and behold, yesterday I watched five copies get packed up and shipped back. The book released on March 1, and in three months, what little overstock we had to satisfy any sort of customer craving for it, is gone. The reality of the modern bookstore is right there on the little portable scanner: *beep* This week's sales, Last 4 weeks' sales, Last 13 week's sales. This last number tells the store how many to keep in stock, and for this book, it dropped like a rock. The 13-week sales aren't enough to sustain more than a single copy, even though at only three months old, it's still very much a frontlist title.

So back they went. Being in print doesn't mean having stacks and stacks at the store for hardly anyone anymore. The world is driven by that little number, and if it's low--so are your orders.

It's sobering.

If you're interested in the book, you can grab it here:

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