Sunday, October 01, 2006

Guilty as Charged

I suspect a picture of me is taped up in the employee lounges of my local bookstores. With warnings to watch me for nefarious and suspicious activity.

And it’s true. All of it.

I am guilty of skulking through the aisles to the Young Adult section, studying the shelves, scanning the area for employees and people-without-lives, and waiting until the time cost is clear. And then--

Whamo! My hand strikes like a coiled snake at its prey. I grab a stack of faced-out books, slide them forward ‘til only their spines show. Then I stop. I glance around. I take a few side-steps ‘til I’m in front of a friend’s books. I scoot other books down to make an empty space.

Then I strike again. Moving my friend’s books to the preferred face-out position so that her cover can be seen and enjoyed by all.

(And okay, I admit it: what a rush!)

Big Name authors, my apologies. Yours are the books I turn in. Because you’ve already got a strong reader base, and your readers are going to find your books whether they jump out at them or not.

What I’m hoping for is the impulse buy, that the reader who came in for a Big Name leaves with a New Name, too. (Preferably a book written by a Buzz Girl, my critique partner, or another of my friends.) That the shopper learns what so many of us already know, that there’s a wealth of new talent out there, waiting to be discovered.

So far, the Book Store Police have not detained me. I continue to strike in the name of new authors (who double as friends). I’ll let you know if this ever changes. In the meantime, starting next February, if you happen to see my book on a shelf appearing only by its spine? Well...I’m not going to ask you to break any laws, of course. But you know what to do.

Are any of you equally guilty?


Marley Gibson said...

:::raising hand:::

Guilty as charged!

I've also been known to listen to moms and daughters who are foraging in the aisle as well and gladly pipe up with "oh, she's a great writer" if they're holding a friend's book.

I was thrilled recently to see my friend, Jenn's, book MAJOR CRUSH featured on a YA table and thinking..."wow, I didn't have to move it there." = )

Kelly (Lynn) Parra said...

LOL, Tina! I've done it before with my Romance friends, and now I'll soon be starting with my YA buds! =D

Shannon McKelden said...

I do it all the time!! It's actually great fun. I admit it. That's as close as I come to breaking the law. :-)


stephhale said...

I'm guilty of this. Sometimes if I can't get any time alone in the aisle I'll nudge my son to pull a book off the shelf then I can full a fast switch when I put it back. I have to be careful b/c the book store people around here are kind of a surly bunch. I'm planning to take pepper spray when I ask if I can have a book signing just in case it gets ugly.

Dona Sarkar-Mishra said...

I've been known to take 6-7 copies of my friend's books and place them on the front tables at B&N on a regular basis. And I've even go so far as to add some of those books to the "Staff Picks" section as well.

vikk simmons said...

Well, I'm one who works in a bookstore, for one of the evil empires at that, and I can tell you that what you do probably doesn't last very long. :) Employees have little control over the way things are in stores, except for their designated areas or shelves. That's where they can exert a little control and choose books and authors they like, covers that appeal to them, or some other variant that works to choose the books that are spine-out versus face-out. Most won't say anything. They'll just wait until you're gone and put it back the way they want it.

The other thing is that as far as the look of the shelving, etc., you may or may not be changing something they had done. But there's so many books coming in and so many more being pulled that it's hard to say how much this helps--or doesn't. Some booksellers may not care. Others may not appreciate it and they are also the ones who handsell your books and recommend you to the customers.

It might be even more helpful if you were to find a bookseller and get to know them. Let them know who you are, that you have a book there, and that you'd appreciate them recommending your book. If there's something special or a way to flag your book in their mind, then give them a tidbit.

Just don't be rude, obnoxious, or high-handed and berate them as being stupid and an idiot for either not having your book or not knowing who you are. :)

It happens.

MaNiC MoMMy™ said...

Always do this! Plus, I'll move my friend's books up to eye-level for that added adrenaline rush!

TinaFerraro said...

A-ha, so I am not alone! Thanks to those of you who chimed in with similar confessions.

And Vikk, please know we love and appreciate booksellers--no berating from this gang. And thanks for your tips and for visiting the Buzz Girls!

vikk simmons said...


No problem. I'm enjoying your blog.

One other tip--not that anyone here is doing it-but do not have your friends and family order multiple copies of your book and then not pick it up. If it's not on the shelf it becomes a "special order." There are special order clerks who handle those. They have to make phone calls and do all kinds of things to get the books in.

If the books aren't picked up they will NOT go out onto the floor and become part of the inventory. They will be shipped back.

Plus you will now have one disgusted employee who knows your name and your book angry. And trust me, they remember and they share names. :)

Me said...

Me too, me too! I've done the whole "turn out the covers" thing and "move them to the front table" thing.

I will also confess, in strictest confidence, that I once even did the reverse. There is an author (who shall remain nameless) whom I do not care for personally. Her books, however, always seem to be face out right near my critique partner's books. Twice I succumbed to the impulse to turn her covers in.

Until my critique partner suggested that I was creating negative karma for myself--I was convinced that this was why I wasn't selling... I stopping, reformed, even turned that author's covers back out and less than two weeks later I sold. Makes a girl think!

Simone Elkeles said...

I totally do this, and wonder if I'll ever get "caught". Is it okay? Is it politically correct? I LOVE Dona's idea of putting them on front shelves or the "staff picks" shelf. That's hilarious!

Anonymous said...


Thats awesome! Ill hide the mainstreamers just for all of you! hahaha!!!!