Posts Tagged Brutal Telling

VJ Books Comments on the Price Wars of Bestselling Books

A Commentary On Price Wars On Bestselling Books


We love books, we promote books, and yes, we sell books.  Our mission statement is to deliver to our customer an innovative approach to bookselling that recognizes the love of books that resides in all collectors.


Now this may seem like a trivial point, but we sell books because we love books . . . not the other way around.  From this vantage point we do not discriminate between blockbuster titles by bestselling authors and the new author delivering his or her first novel.  In fact we rely on the new author to fuel the excitement that brings our customer back to see what’s new.


This year we have brought you Abandon by Blake Crouch, Crush by Alan Jacobson, A Quiet Belief in Angels by R. J. Ellory, and The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny, just to mention a few.  These are all noteworthy books that would normally get lost in the big market stores who use their clout and buying power to push more James Patterson, John Grisham, Michael Crichton, and other mainstream titles at us in attempt to gain or secure market share.


Similarly, NY publisher editorial staffs select for publication those authors and titles that fit this limited view of “what will sell,” driving market trends rather that listening to what the reader really wants to read.  The result is a “dumbing down” of literature, and we end up with what I refer to as “airplane reads,” books that get read and thrown away.


For the record, we also rely on big selling books to provide us with the capital we need to offer a broader selection to our customers.  Sales of those big books allow us to comb through the hundreds of new titles each year and bring understated, infrequently advertised quality writing to your attention.  Michael Connelly was unknown when Little, Brown introduced us to Harry Bosch in The Black Echo, and John Grisham sold A Time To Kill from the trunk of his car to independent bookstores across the south.  We believe that tomorrow’s hottest authors are now residing in the new release flyers we send to you twice a week.


A lot of talk is spreading throughout the industry, outrage over the predatory pricing being used by Wal-mart, Amazon, and Target to gain a larger share of the market.  Unfair practices by these behemoths threaten the future of bookselling.  They can sell books either below their costs, or through backroom agreements with publishers, to bring customers to their stores to buy other products that they offer.  “Loss leaders” are not new, but this goes beyond such practices.  They are robbing the small independent bookstore of profits necessary to enable them to bring the full range of titles worthy our consideration to their shelves.


So we are asking you to refrain from buying these two or three books from the superstores.  Please buy these titles from your local independent bookseller.  Reward them with your business and they, like us, will guarantee you more to choose from in the years ahead.


All best wishes and good reading,





Minotaur Moving Beyond Genre

Andrew Martin is a man on a mission, a mission to change the industry’s perception of the mystery imprint he’s been heading for the last three years. Martin, as publisher of Minotaur Books, which releases some 140 titles annually, is pushing a message to the publishing community that his imprint is about more than str1ong, small-run backlist genre mysteries, it’s also about “big, noisy blockbusters.”Noting that his outlook on publishing was changed by the years he spent working at Sterling, owned by Barnes & Noble, Martin has devised a schedule in which Minotaur publishes one big book a month that is backed by a major marketing push and a 75,000-copy to 200,000-copy first printing.

To find the right lead title, Minotaur takes chances on newcomers as well as writers from what Martin dubs his “farm team.” Chelsea Cain, a Portland journalist who signed a seven-figure, three-book deal with the imprint in 2006, is a good example of the former tack; Cain’s first two novels in her serial killer trilogy—Heartsick and Sweetheart—both hit the bestseller lists.

The other route involves cherry-picking writers from Minotaur’s backlist (aka the farm team)—many of them accomplished genre authors the imprint has steadily done 5,000-copy print runs for. Olen Steinhauer is one such writer. Steinhauer’s The Tourist, published in March, is his sixth book, but the first in a new trilogy, which Martin said was key to giving the Edgar-winning author a higher profile. “[Steinhauer] had great literary chops,” Martin elaborated, “but I can’t make him great on book four or five of a five-book series.” (The Tourist, which has sold 51,000 copies to date, was also acquired for film by George Clooney.)

Martin’s goal is to drive home the message that Minotaur, while it is about genre fiction, is also about big fiction. To that end, the imprint recently signed a three-book deal with bestseller Nevada Barr; it will now release the next titles in Barr’s long-running series featuring Parks Service detective Anna Pigeon.

In addition to bigger print runs—upcoming 100,000-copy pushes include Norb Vonnegut’s Top Producer (mid-September) and Louise Penny‘s The Brutal Telling (late September)—Martin is trying to twist the old publicity standards. The imprint has done away with shipping a crate-full of galleys—known as the Beast Box —to booksellers and the press every season. Instead it’s shipping two “discoveries” and a memory stick with promotional information about other upcoming titles. (The discoveries are two of the house’s lead titles.)

According to Martin, the less is more approach is all part of the plan “to get you reading, buying, selling Minotaur books.”

Although Martin acknowledged that consumers may not check the bindings of their books before they buy, branding is key, he thinks, within the industry. “While I don’t promote the Minotaur brand to the consumer, I do to the customer,” by which he means getting booksellers and the press on board with the new Minotaur.

(Publisher’s Weekly, Jun 8, Rachel Deahl)