This issue of the newsletter is going to the printer a couple of weeks later than planned. Part of the problem is that the publishers assume that bookstores will be too busy to mess with new release catalogs and placing orders from mid-November through the end of the year, so we receive almost no new release information during that period. Then, the publishers try to catch up during January and February, and with some publishers we received 6 months of new release information in 2 months, which caused a backlog in data entry for the newsletter. Another part of the problem is that we've been trying to make 3 months of new releases fit into our 24 page format, and sometimes there isn't enough room for them all to fit. So, last issue we didn't bother to list some of the titles we expected to receive late in February--just chopped them out of the listings until the listings fit the space available. The plan was to list those late February titles as "recently received" in the March issue, and then start listing the titles expected to arrive in March. But we've been playing this game for quite a few issues, and the problem gets a little worse each time. This issue, we would have had to cut almost all the May titles to make the listing fit into 24 pages, which was not acceptable. So, we had to go to 32 pages (since our printer can only handle changes in 8-page increments), and we found that putting out a 32 page newsletter is a bit more work than a 24 page newsletter (not to mention being about $600 more expensive). We hope to be back on schedule and back to 24 pages next issue.
The 1998 Edgar Awards will be presented April 30 for the best of 1997. The nominees include:
Best Novel: Cimarron Rose by James Lee Burke ($24.95, $7.99 in mid-May), Dreaming of the Bones by Deborah Crombie ($22.00), A Wasteland of Strangers by Bill Pronzini ($21.95), Black and Blue by Ian Rankin ($24.95), and The Purification Ceremony by Mark T. Sullivan ($24.00).
Best First Novel by an American Author: A Crime in the Neighborhood by Suzanne Berne ($17.95), Los Alamos by Joseph Kanon ($25.00 hc or $7.50 pb), Bird Dog by Phillip Reed ($22.00), Flower Net by Lisa See ($24.00), and 23 Shades of Black by K.J.A. Wishnia.
Best Paperback Original: Home Again, Home Again by Susan Rogers Cooper ($5.50), The Prioress' Tale by Margaret Frazer ($5.99), Tarnished Icons by Stuart M. Kaminsky ($5.99), Charm City by Laura Lippman ($5.99), and Sunset and Santiago by Gloria White ($5.50).
Best Critical/Biographical: The Reader and the Detective Story by George M. Dove, Crime Fiction and Film in the Sunshine State: Florida Noir edited by Steve Glassman and Maurice O'Sullivan ($19.95), Deadly Women: The Woman Mystery Reader's Indispensable Companion edited by Jan Grape, Dean James, and Ellen Nehr ($19.95), "G" is for Grafton: The World of Kinsey Millhone by Natalie Hevener Kaufman and Carol McGinnis Kay ($25.00), and AZ Murder Goes Classic edited by Barbara Peters and Susan Malling.
Best Fact Crime: The Death of Innocents by Richard Firstman and Jamie Talari ($24.95), Our Guys: The Glen Ridge Rape and the Secret Life of the Perfect Suburb by Bernard Lefowitz, The Napolean of Crime: The Life and Times of Adam Worth, Master Thief by Ben MacIntrye ($24.00), Bitter Harvest: A Woman's Fury, A Mother's Sacrifice by Ann Rule ($23), May God Have Mercy: A True Story of Crime & Punishment by John C. Tucker.
Best Young Adult: Tangerine by Edward Bloor ($17.00), Ghost Canoe by Will Hobbs ($15.00), Yesterday's Child by Sonja Levitin ($14.95), Thin Ice by Marsha Qualey , and Deal with a Ghost by Marilyn Singer ($15.95).
Best Juvenile: Turn the Cup Around by Barbara Mariconda ($15.95), Christie & Company Down East by Katharine Hall Page ($3.99), Secrets at Hidden Valley by Willo Davis Roberts ($16.00), Wolf Stalker by Gloria Skurzynski and Alane Ferguson, and Sparrows in the Scullery by Barbara Brooks ($15.00).
The Dilys Award is given by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association to recognize the new mystery title that members most enjoyed selling during the year. The winner this year is Three to Get Deadly by Janet Evanovich ($24.00). [The first in the Evanovich series, One For the Money ($6.50) won the same award two years ago.] The other nominees were Killing Floor by Lee Child ($23.95), Backspin by Harlan Coben ($5.50), Sacred by Dennis Lehane ($23.00), Deja Dead by Kathy Reichs ($24.00), and The Devil in Music by Kate Ross ($24.95).
The nominees for the 1997 Philip K. Dick Award (for best paperback original science fiction novel) are Acts of Conscience by William Barton ($5.99), The Troika by Stephan Chapman, An Exchange of Hostages by Susan R. Matthews ($5.99), Carlucci's Heart by Richard Paul Russo ($6.50), Opalite Moon by Denise Vitola ($5.99), and Mother Grimm by Catherine Wells ($5.99).
The nominees for the 1997 Arthur C. Clarke Award (for best new science fiction novel first published in England in 1997) are Titan by Stephan Baxter ($23.00), Glimmering by Elizabeth Hand ($6.99), Days by James Lovegrove, Nymphomation by Jeff Noon, The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell ($15.00), and The Family Tree by Sheri S. Tepper ($23.00, $6.99 in early April).
The 1997 Nebula Awards Preliminary Ballot contained all works that received 10 or more nominations. This listing was then reduced to the top vote-getters per catagory plus possibly a nominee selected by the Nebula Jury for the Final Ballot. The prelimary nominees (with finalists indicated with a *) in the Novel catagory are God's Fires by Patricia Anthony ($22.95), Catch the Lightning by Catherine Asaro ($5.99), Shadowdance by Robin Bailey ($5.99), One for the Morning Glory by John Barnes ($5.99), Acts of Conscience by William Barton ($5.99), *Memory by Lois McMaster Bujold ($6.99), The Fortunate Fall by Raphael Carter ($13.95), How Like A God by Brenda Clough ($5.99), Lunatics by Bradley Denton ($12.95), Groogleman by Debra Doyle & James D. Macdonald ($15.00), *King's Dragon by Kate Elliot ($6.99), Firestar by Michael Flynn ($6.99), The Sweetheart Season by Karen Joy Fowler ($12.00), Expendable by James Alan Gardner ($5.99), Celestial Matters by Richard Garfinkle ($14.95), Crota by Owl Goingback ($21.95), Instrument of Fate by Christie Golden ($5.99), Wildside by Steven Gould, Palace by Katharine Kerr & Mark Kreighbaum ($5.99), Corrupting Dr. Nice by John Kessel ($14.95), Humpty Dumpty: An Oval by Damon Knight ($13.95), Kings of the High Frontier by Victor Koman (apparently only published on the web by pulpless.com), *A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin ($6.99), An Exchange of Hostages by Susan R. Matthews ($5.99), *Ancient Shores by Jack McDevitt ($5.99), Murder in the Solid State by Wil McCarthy ($22.95), *The Moon and the Sun by Vonda N. McIntyre ($23.00), Blameless in Abaddon by James Morrow ($13.00), The Ringword Throne by Larry Niven ($6.99), The Widowmaker by Mike Resnick ($5.99), Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Charles Sheffield ($5.99), Higher Education by Charles Sheffield and Jerry Pournelle ($5.99), Shards of Empire by Susan Shwartz ($5.99), Clouds End by Sean Stewart ($13.95), Drakon by S. M. Stirling ($5.99), Devil's Tower by Mark Sumner ($5.99), *City on Fire by Walter Jon Williams ($6.99), *Bellwether by Connie Willis ($6.50), The Wood Wife by Teri Windling, and Exodus From the Long Sun by Gene Wolfe ($6.99). About 3/4 of the prelimary nominees are from 1996, the rest from 1997. The awards will be presented in early-May.
The finalist for the 1998 British Science Fiction Association Awards are A Son of the Rock by Jack Deighton, Signs of Life by J. John Harriosn, Earthquake Weather by Tim Powers ($24.95), The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell ($12.00), and Jack Faust by Michael Swanwick ($23.00).
New Reference Books
A couple of new mystery reference books that we expected before Christmas from small presses have finally arrived. Mystery Women: An Encyclopedia of Leading Women Characters in Mystery Fiction Volume 1: 1860-1979 ($19.99) is by Wisconsin author Colleen A. Barnett, who did some of her research at Uncle Edgar's. This book covers 1705 titles, 326 characters, and 310 authors. In addition to covering "pure" mysteries, the book also includes such sf-crossover characters as James Schmitz's Telzey Amberdon and Rosel George Brown's Sibyl Sue Blue. Detecting Men: A Reader's Guide and Checklist for Mystery Series Written by Men ($29.95) by Willetta L. Heising is packed full of useful information, although the Pseudonyms chapter is somewhat confusing, especially regarding Paul Harding/ P. C. Doherty/ Michael Clynes/ Ann Dukthas/ C. L. Grace.
Dr. Who Books
Just before this newsletter went to the printer, we got in lots of the new BBC Dr. Who novels at much friendlier prices than the ones we had been bringing in a couple at a time from England (now $5.95 instead of the $11.95 we had been charging): Alien Bodies by Lawrence Miles (eighth Doctor), Bodysnatchers by Mark Morris (eighth Doctor), The Devil Goblins From Neptune by Keith Topping and Martin Day (third Doctor), The Eight Doctors by Terrance Dicks (eighth Doctor), Eye of Heaven by Jim Mortimore (fourth Doctor and Leela), Face of the Enemy by David A. McIntee (the Master and UNIT), Genocide by Paul Leonard (eighth Doctor), Illegal Alien by Mike Tucker and Robert Perry (seventh Doctor and Ace), Kursaal by Peter Anghelides (eighth Doctor and Sam), Murder Game by Steve Lyons (second Doctor), Option Loch by Justin Richards (eighth Doctor and Sam), The Roundheads by Mark Gates (second Doctor), The Ultimate Treasure by Christopher Bulis (fifth Doctor and Peri), Vampire Science by Jonathan Blum and Kate Orman (eighth Doctor), and War of the Daleks by John Peel (eighth Doctor). The same shipment also included 3 New Adventures, also at $5.95 each: Mean Streets by Terrance Dicks, Tempest by Christopher Bulis, and Walking to Babylon by Kate Orman.
New Collectable Card Sets
Just as the newsletter was going to the printer, we received the Stronghold expansion to Magic. In April we are supposed to see the Shadows expansion set for the Babylon 5 card game, the Jabba's Palace expansion and Second Antholgy for the Star Wars card game, and C-23, a new Wizards of the Coast card game using the new ARC System, which will allow C-23 cards to be used with cards from other ARC System games, including the Xena: The Warrior Princess card game (due in May) and the Hercules: The Legendary Journeys card game (due this summer, probably in July). Also schedules for this summer is the Star Trek Deep Space Nine expansion set.
We were sold out of The Flash Girl's Maurice and I ($15 CD) for a while, but we now have a big pile available. (Sorry, but there is no expectation of a reprint of the other Flash Girls CD or of the Cats Laughing CDs in the near future.) We were also temporarily out of Musical Evenings With the Captain: Music From the Aubrey-Maturin Novel of Patrick O'Brian ($16 CD), but have gotten restocked with the first volume as well as getting the brand new Volume II (also $16 CD).
Don was flipping through a music wholesaler's catalog and saw a listing for a CD of the Mabinogion translated into Welsh songs, and thus ordered Or Mabinogi: Legends of the Celts by Ceredwen ($17). He found the music less strident and the voices sweeter than he had expected, given the source material, but still enjoys the CD a lot. All the songs are in Welsh, with both Welsh lyrics and English translations in the liner notes.
By the way, we have a CD/ cassette player at Uncle Hugo's front desk, and sample disks of around half the music we carry--so if you'd like to hear a sample of something before purchasing, there's about a 50% chance we'll be able play a cut or two while you're looking over the newly released books.
We've managed to get a lot of freshly signed books since the last issue of the newsletter. At Uncle Hugo's, Patricia Wrede stopped by to sign Book of Enchantments ($4.50), Dealing with Dragons (#1,$4.50), Searching for Dragons (#2, $4.50), Calling on Dragons (#3, $4.50), Talking to Dragons (#4, $4.50), Magician's Ward ($22.95), and Shadows Over Lyra (an omnibus of Shadow Magic, Dauaghter of Witches, and The Harp of Imach Thyssel, plus some material on Lyran history, $11.99). Mike Moscoe left us with some signed copies of Second Fire (#2, $5.99) and Lost Days (#3, $5.99) of his Lost Millennium trilogy, but he pounced on every customer who walked in the door until we were sold out of the first of the series, First Dawn. Jack Whyte signed some copies of The Eagles Brood ($25.95).
Fresh signed books at Uncle Edgar's include Harold Adams' Hatchet Job ($19.95) and Ice Pick Artist ($21.95); Nancy Atherton's Aunt Dimity Digs In ($21.95); G. M. Ford's Who in Hell is Wanda Fuca? ($5.99), Cast in Stone ($5.99), The Bum's Rush ($22.95 or $5.99), and Slow Burn ($20.00); Jamie Harrison's The Edge of the Crazies ($5.99), Going Local ($21.95 or $5.99), and An Unfortunate Prairie Occurrence ($22.95); Daniel Hecht's Skull Session ($23.95); Sarah Lovett's Acquired Motives ($5.99), Dangerous Attachments ($5.99), and A Desperate Silence ($24.00); Katherine Hall Page's The Body in the Fjord ($22.00); Christopher Reich's Numbered Account ($24.95); Laurence Shames' Mangrove Squeeze ($22.95); Dorothy Simpson's Once Too Often ($21.00); Michael Stone's A Long Reach ($5.99), The Low End of Nowhere ($5.95), and Token of Remorse ($22.95); and Kathleen Tayloer's Sex and Salmonella ($5.50), The Hotel South Dakota ($5.99), and Funeral Food ($5.99).
Tolkien Jigsaw Puzzles
Just before Christmas we were able to get 7 different Tolkien jigsaw puzzles from Iron Crown Enterprises, the gaming company that puts out many other Tolkien-related items. Map of Middle-Earth is 1500 pieces for $19.95, An Unexpected Party (hobbits, dwarves, and Gandalf eating and drinking) is 1000 pieces for $14.95, Mirror of Galadriel is 1000 pieces for $14.95, Arwen's Choice is 1000 pieces for $19.95, Burglar Baggins (stealing from the dragon) is 500 pieces of $9.95, Eowyn & the Witch-King is 500 pieces for $9.95, and The Way is Shut is 500 pieces for $9.95.
Frequently Asked Questions
Answered By Don Blyly
There are many questions that we hear frequently, and here are the answers.
When is the next Robert Jordan novel coming? Last word we had directly from the publisher indicated either November or December, but the latest Locus lists The Path of Daggers as an October release.
When is the next George R. R. Martin book in the Game of Thrones series coming? The publisher had announced A Clash of Kings as an April release back when George was only 2/3 finished with writing the book. The publisher then pushed the release date back to June. Now, the release date has been pushed back to January, 1999. Don passed word to the publisher that we would rather have it in time for Christmas, 1998 sales, but there is no sign that the publisher listened.
When is the final volume in David Brin's new Uplift Trilogy coming?Heaven's Reach will be on sale early in June at $24.95. Don passed word to the publisher that we would really, really like to have David come in for an autographing, but there is no sign that the publisher listened.
When is the next volume coming in David Gerrold's War of the Cthorr series? Sorry, we haven't even heard a rumor that he's working on it.
When is the next Anita Blake book coming from Laurel Hamilton? Burnt Offerings should be here around April 10 at $6.99.
When is the next Jean Auel book coming? The salesman for her publisher hasn't heard any rumors of a manuscript being turned in, so wait a year and ask again.
When is the next Tom Clancy book coming? The next Op Center book, Balance of Power, is coming mid-April at $7.50. The next non-Op-Center book is Rainbow Six (in which ex-SEAL/covert operative John Clark faces terrorists so extreme that their success would destroy the earth), which should arrive late in August at $27.95.
What's going on with the Sears site redevelopment? I'd sure like to know the real answer to that question. I read the reports that hit print, I attend the local business association meeting (where hot rumors are passed around), and sometimes I even go searching for good rumors on my own. I'm hesitant to put into print a report based on rumors, but anything I'd be willing to put into print would have to be more accurate than what our local tabloid journalist has already put into print, so let me try to explain what I believe to be happening, based on everything I've read and heard from sources that seem dependable. Ray Harris had an option to buy the Sears site, but he was supposed to close on the deal by late December. He wanted to close on the deal in late December, and already had hazardous-waste clean-up people scheduled to go into the building early in January to start cleaning up asbestos. He had tenants lined up to rent much of the space, and he needed to get the asbestos removed before he could start construction, so that the tenants could start moving in. Sears failed to get their paperwork done in time for the closing. When they finally turned the paperwork over to Harris for review, it was a huge pile of paper. The Sears site was once made up of many, many little lots that Sears bought over the years, and attorneys had to check that good title was being conveyed on all those little parcels. (Was this 1927 lien on this house, torn down in 1950 to make a parking lot, cleared to everybody's satisfaction?--things like that, multiplied many, many times.) After receiving this mountain of paper, Harris hoped that closing could take place in February. Somewhere along the line, Sears decided that they no longer wanted to sell to Harris, and claimed in court that since he didn't close on schedule last December, he no longer had an option on the property. They also claimed that they had a new buyer lined up, but once the new buyer learned more about the situation, the new buyer very quickly withdrew. Harris has been fighting back in court. At this point, Harris has sunk at least $440,000 of his own money into the project, and he very much wants things to move forward.
Now, we get into the area of rumors. One rumor is that Harris has lined up bank financing for the project, and the bankers are demanding that the seller clarify certain title issues before any money changes hands, and the seller has been refusing to clarify these title issues to the satisfaction of the bankers. One reported problem area involves the lease on the newer warehouse space north of the railroad tracks. Sears entered into a lease with MDI for the warehouse space, which is close to half of the total square footage of the space Harris would be buying, and Harris would be bound by the terms of this lease, and would be depending on the rent from the lease to make his cashflow projections work and keep his bankers happy. MDI reportedly complained to Sears last fall that the roof was leaking so badly that a majority of the space they were leasing could no longer be used, and asked Sears to repair the roof. Sears reportedly refused to repair the roof, but told MDI that it could repair the roof at MDI's expense, and then not pay rent until MDI had recovered the cost of the roof repairs. MDI reportedly has not repaired Sears' roof for them and also has not been paying rent. This situation reportedly makes Harris' bankers nervous. Another reported problem involves a radio antenna on the roof of the Sears building. Harris and his bankers wanted to know who the antenna belongs to, if there is an outstanding lease covering the antenna, what the terms of any such lease might be, and if somebody might come along and sue Harris if he removes the antenna. Sears is reported to have said that they don't know anything about the antenna and that the issues raised by Harris regarding the antenna are not legitimate matters of concern.
Harris is rumored to be hoping that all the issues can be resolved so that closing can take place by the end of March. Before that, he had hoped that closing could take place at the beginning of March. Before that, he had hoped that closing could take place in February. Before that, he had hoped that closing could take place late in December. Meanwhile, Harris and Sears are still fighting in court over whether or not he still has an option on the property. The only thing I know for sure is that the pot holes in the parking lot will continue to get larger and larger.
Why don't publishers want to sell books? (You might be surprised how often we hear this question.) To answer this accurately, we should look separately at small presses and the big guys.
Some of the small presses are wonderful to work with (they produce books that people want to read, in nice editions, with reasonable discounts schedules, and they ship books promptly with invoices that are correct and easy to understand), while others are difficult. I think some people start small presses because they think it would be a neat business to be in, but they either don't do adequate research to understand the business they are entering, or they intend to run the press as a "hobby business" and are overwhelmed by the amount of time it takes to do things right--and if they can't take enough time away from their "day job", then the business will not run correctly. I currently am waiting on several small press orders that were placed a couple of months ago. The record is still held by the publisher of P. C. Hodgell's wonderful books. My first order took a little over a year to arrive, the next order only took a few months, but the latest order has been in for over 18 months and in spite of reminder letters there's still no sign of the books.
At the major publishers, the editors want to sell books, the sales departments want to sell books, but too many credit departments feel that their primary function is to impede the sales of books. In a smoothly functioning system, books will flow from the publisher through the bookseller and on to the ultimate consumer, and money will flow from the consumer through the bookseller back to the publisher, and eventually a little of the money might even reach the author. A well-run credit department will try to help the system run smoothly, only blocking the flow of books when payments get seriously out of line, and then will try to get things flowing smoothly again as soon as possible. A few credit departments actually work this way, but they are a minority.
The best of the credit departments will notice if an account is get close to being in trouble, will call around the middle of the month and say, "You'll need to clear $XXXX.xx covering the invoices dated through the end of December by the end of this month, or else your account will go On Hold." (On Hold means that the credit department keeps the shipping department from shipping books to a particular account.) With a couple of weeks to compare the monthly statement to the file full of that publisher's invoices (to make sure we received all the shipments the publisher claimed to have sent, and that all of those shipments contained the right number of the right titles at the right prices--a rare occurance for some publishers) and to schedule payment, there is almost never an interuption in the flow of books from publishers that operate their credit departments in this manner, and the flow of money to such publishers is also smoother than if they operated the credit department like some of the others I'm about to describe.
A more common practice is for the credit department to wait until the account is in trouble (which sometimes has more to do with how hard the conglomerate overlords are screaming for cash for the next acquistion than it does with the payment history of the bookseller), put the account On Hold, and then call the bookseller to say in effect, "I'm holding your books hostage until you send a check." There is some variation--the smarter ones will figure out how much money they want before calling, while the stupid ones will call to demand money without bothering to figure out first how much money they're demanding. The more cooperative ones will take the account off hold as soon as the bookseller calls back to say, "Check #7765 for $XXXX.xx is in the mail" (assuming there is a history of honesty about such things on the part of the bookseller), while the less cooperative ones won't allow the books to be shipped until the credit representative has applied the payment to the specific invoices that are overdue--which can sometimes be up to two weeks after the bookseller's check has been cashed in cases where the conglomerate insists that the payment check must be mailed to a bank lockbox in a different state from the location of the credit department, and the credit representative must wait for the out-of-state bank to get around to mailing a batch of paperwork long after the check has been cashed.
The stupidest credit departments will put an account On Hold, but keep this fact secret. This keeps the books from flowing from the publisher to bookseller and on to the ultimate consumer, but does nothing to speed up the flow of money back to the publisher, so everybody suffers. Two of the top ten publishers in the country do this on a regular basis.
How about a recent example of how these sorts of stupidity on the part of a credit department can affect all the interested parties? A company which shall remain nameless ran a "stock-up for Christmas" promotion last fall on their backlist titles--an extra 2% discount if the order was over a certain size, I think 200 books. They publish quite a few good books, many of which get rotated periodically through our various "Recommended" displays, and I know from experience that during the Christmas season we sell a lot more books from the "Recommended" displays than at any other time of the year, because of people who, for example, buy mysteries for themselves year-round but are looking for gifts for people who read science fiction and fantasy. So, in early November we ordered modest quantities of some of their weaker titles, and large numbers of copies of the titles that we like to recommend to people. If things had worked as planned, there would have been a higher than normal number of titles from this publisher on our "Recommended" shelves, which would have resulted in much higher sales for this publisher's books, and slightly higher profits for the bookstore because of the slightly higher discount. And the customers would be equally happy because any of the books we recommended would be books we believed in.
On Friday, November 21, just before noon, I received a call from a representative of this company's credit department. (They call him our "Customer Financial Rep"--I call him "The Guy In Charge of Screwing Up Our Account".) Now, I have to admit that I was behind on my bookkeeping, partly because my ex-wife had been in the hospital for about a month, resulting in me having more kid-duty than normal and partly because I was trying to get the December Newsletter ready to go to the printer on time, and I was a bit behind on my account with this publisher. But, because I had not had much time for writing checks, there was probably a record amount of money in the checking account. So, when he called, my approach was to tell him that he should tell me how much he wanted and I'd immediately review the statement and send him a check to clear up whatever he wanted cleared up. This wasn't good enough for him--he had called to be threatening, so he insisted on threatening. He insisted that I had to Federal Express the check to him so that he received it by the next Tuesday or else he'd turn the account over for legal action, but he never gave me an address to Fed Ex the check to, and the conglomerate insists that checks must go to a Post Office Box, which Fed Ex can't deliver to. I told him to just calm down and tell me how much he was looking for, and I'd take care of sending the check yet that afternoon. He came up with more threats, and I again asked how much money he was looking for. Eventually I got fed up with his behavior, explained to him that he wasn't performing his job in a way that was beneficial to anybody, told him that money was not a problem but his behavior was a problem, and again asked how much money he wanted. Turns out that he hadn't bothered to figure that out before calling to threaten me, and I had to wait a few minutes while he tried to figure out how much he wanted to clear up the problem with the account. By the time I got off the phone with him, I was so fed up with his company that I tore down a big display of signed hardcovers (his company had paid for the author to come in from California, so I had left the display up for longer than I normally would have), and returned most of the hardcovers to reduce my bill, even though I could easily have paid cash for the full amount. The check not only reached him by the next Tuesday (by regular mail), but was deposited and got back to Minnesota and cleared my bank account by Tuesday. I expected that meant things were taken care of, and the books would arrive soon. When we sold out of several of the books on the "recommended" displays from this company, I didn't bother to order more copies from wholesalers because I was expecting large numbers of those titles to come in any day direct from the publisher. As a result, we went through the busiest part of the year with almost no books from this publisher on the "recommended" displays. Near the end of December I sent the company another large check, without any call from the credit department, simply because I had a lot of money in the checking account that I wanted to spend before the end of the year, for tax reasons. Finally, I called the company in mid-January to find out why the Christmas stock-up order still had not arrived. Customer service told me that it was because the credit department had been holding the order since mid-November, and I'd have to talk to the credit department to find out the details. I called The Guy in Charge of Screwing Up Our Account and asked if we were On Hold, and he confirmed that we had been On Hold constantly since mid-November. I demanded to know why the hell he hadn't taken us off Hold when he cashed the November check. He said, "You sound upset, so I'm going to refuse to talk to you." I then called the salesman for the company and explained the situation to him, and after he had muttered various unflattering comments about the credit department (which many salesmen for many publishers spend a lot of time doing), he gave me the name and phone number for the head of the credit department. When I had explained the situation to the head of the credit department, he told me that there was nothing wrong with the way The Guy had handled the situation, but to show what a nice person the head of the department was, he would take my account off Hold immediately even though the December check had not arrived. Need I add that my December check had already been cashed and cleared my bank account in Minnesota when the head of the department told me that it had not yet arrived?
How did this incredible mess affect the various parties involved? I sold a lot less books from this publisher over the Christmas season than I otherwise would have, hurting the publisher and those authors who would otherwise have had their books recommended. The dollar volume of my purchases from the company will end up being substantially less it would have been if the credit department had been operated properly, and the cash flowing to them for previous purchases was slowed down by the behavior of The Guy. If The Guy had called before putting me On Hold and discussed the situation in a polite manner, he would have received a check sooner, and it would have been a larger check because I would not have taken down the display of signed hardcovers and returned them until after the Christmas season. I sold just as many books from the "Recommended" displays, but they were books from other publishers and other authors. I made slightly less profit because the books I sold were at the regular discount instead of the extra 2% promotional discount. The customers who wanted to buy recommended books, still had pleny of good books to buy. The only customers who were inconvenienced were those looking for a specific title from this publisher which we were temporarily out of, because of the delay in shipping our order.
[Some readers might note some similarities between the behavior of the credit department of this unnamed publisher and that of an unnamed publisher I commented on a year ago. It is the same publisher, the same credit department, but a different Guy In Charge of Screwing Up Our Account--presumably doing things the way the company wants them done. The company seems to have high turnover in the credit department, but the problems stay fairly similar, regardless of the name of The Guy this month.]
There is a European best-selling series of police procedurals by Baantjer starring Amsterdam Detective-Inspector DeKok, and they are being translated into English and published by a small press. The first 2 novels, DeKok and the Sunday Strangler and DeKok and the Corpse on Christmas Eve have been issued as Murder in Amsterdam ($9.95). Other titles we've received include DeKok and the Brothers of the Easy Death ($7.95), DeKok and the Careful Killer ($7.95), DeKok and the Corpse at the Church Wall ($7.95), DeKok and the Dancing Death ($7.95), DeKok and the Dead Accord ($8.95), DeKok and the Disillusioned Corpse ($7.95), DeKok and the Dying Stroller ($7.95), DeKok and Murder in Seance ($8.95), DeKok and the Murder on the Menu ($7.95), DeKok and the Naked Lady ($7.95), DeKok and the Romantic Murder ($7.95), DeKok and the Somber Nude ($7.95), and DeKok and the Sorrowing Tomcat ($7.95).