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1.25.2012

Is Nancy Pearl, Beloved Librarian, A Traitor to Literature?


Maaaaaybe.

The famous librarian, known for her advocacy for libraries and indie booksellers, along with her book series Book Lust, announced earlier this month that she had teamed up with Amazon to reprint older titles. Called "Nancy Pearl's Rediscoveries Series," it will feature previously out-of-print favorites from the librarian. Already, Amazon is selling “A Gay and Melancholy Sound” by Merle Miller and “After Life” by Rhian Ellis.

While the book lover's motivations are put into question (surely she wanted a wider audience for these old, old books!, and perhaps there was some greed in the question), indie booksellers are crying foul. Says a Seattle Times article:
"The reaction from the brick-and-mortar bookshops — which have struggled first against competition from the big-box chains, and then the price-cutting Amazon — was immediate.
By Friday, some 50 store managers and owners had emailed Thom Chambliss, executive director of the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association in Eugene, Ore.
That’s a sizable number, considering the group has 160 to 165 total members.
“Consternation,” is how Chambliss describes the content of the emails." 

MobyLives collects some more juicy backlash:

 “By aligning herself with Amazon, she’s turning her back on independents. Amazon is absolutely antithetical to independent bookselling, and, to many of us, truth, justice and the American way....[Pearl is] a greedy betrayer of the small, sometimes-struggling, bookshops that so supported her.” - J.B. Dickey, owner of the Seattle Mystery Bookshop.
“I kind of feel disappointed that Nancy’s choice will have a sense of betrayal with a lot of librarians and independent booksellers across the country, not just Seattle.” - Vladimir Verano of Third Place Books

Nancy Pearl has noted the pushback:
"There's been pushback that I've gone over to the dark side and allied myself with these people who are destroying the book business as we know it."
What's next for Amazon and Nancy Pearl?

(and oh yeah! this is the 200th post on this blog!)

2 comments:

  1. Nancy Pearl is good for readers, good for writers, and good for publishing. This partnership with Amazon is nothing but a good thing.

    Amazon are shifting their position. See, for example, this news regarding their new publishing agreement with HMH.

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  2. That deal is good for readers, publishers, and writers since it would distribute books to a wider audience, not just those shopping on Amazon.

    The problem, I think, comes in when Amazon's publishing arm makes books only available through Amazon. (The Moby Lives article said many brick and mortar stores are unlikely to sell these).

    As a writer, I think one of my number one priorities would be to get my work to as many people as possible. From my perspective (and the information I have), I wouldn't publish with any of Amazon's imprints because if it's available only at one place, it doesn't have the potential to reach customers, especially shoppers who stumble upon books, those who shop in stores, etc.

    I think the HMH deal is a possible middle ground to appease both Amazon and publishing houses.

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