Monday, October 20, 2008

Bookselling is science fiction

Before I get rid of links with me (or The Graveyard Book) in, has some photos of amazing wonderfulness that will do your heart good.

Here's a short film from the Washington Post of the National Book Festival. It sums up a lot about the atmosphere and the fun of the festival, even if you overlook the strange moment of interspecies meeting (and romance?) that occurs at about 3:05...

Hi Neil
I would like to meet Dave McKean at Forbidden Planet and ask him to sign the Graveyard Book, (and maybe a couple of comics if poss) but it'll be bloody difficult to queue for him in Shaftsbury Ave at 5pm and then get to your talk near Aldwych for 6pm.
I was going to buy the Graveyard Book from Blackwells at your signing with the ticket discount as promised. OK, I know its only £2 but I wanted a few copies to give to friends - it all adds up you know!
So, my question is this. Why, oh why don't you ask Mr McKean to come to the London School of Economics signing after his? Please?
We have three kids to drag from one venue to the other if we do try to do both and you know what nearly/early teens are like - in Hallowe'en gear. They will not want to! (Well they might in a cab - but the cost!)
Sorry about the rant. I just thought maybe you could ask? Just a thought. Thank you for listening.

Well, my event will have a 6:30pmish start time, not 6.00pm. but I take your point. Dave is planning to come down to the Blackwells event after his signing, and may well sign your books if you see him and ask nicely, but he isn't planning to do a whole second signing when I do mine that evening. He likes chocolate, and may well be bribable.

(Which reminds me -- Jill Thompson will be in London signing books in Gosh! Comics on the 25th of October, details at

Also Jill has restarted the Magic Trixie blog over at Lovely stuff.)

Dear Neil,
I was reminded by the Graveyard Book pumpkin that, with Halloween coming up soon, now might be a fun time to remind your fans about the Flickr group that exists for sharing photos of anything inspired by your works. There were some neat Halloween costumes posted last year.
Best wishes always,

I'd completely forgotten that this existed, so yes, consider it linked to.

While on tour I saw a variety and quality of tattoos (mostly Sandman) that amazed me. I even took a couple of photos of people myself, to send to the artists who had done the originals. I keep wishing there was a place that we could gather all of those together...

Hey Neil!I just returned from a trip to Italy. While I was there I looked for a copy of the Graveyard Book in Italian as a souvenier but could not find it at all. In fact the only books of yours I found in the whole country were Stardust and a few of the Sandman graphic novels. I bought the pb of Stardust and the hardback of Brief Lives in Italian. My question is this, is the Graveyard Book even available yet in Italy? I looked in every bookstore I came upon. I just thought a foreign edition would be a great way to remember the trip as a book collector/lover!Thanks,Troy

Books tend to come out in the English language places before they come out in other countries, because it takes time to translate the books into the local tongue. (The only exception I can think of is Poland, who got M is for Magic out before anyone else.)

So no, The Graveyard Book isn't available in Italy yet. But to confuse people, when M is for Magic came out, it was called ( the Italian equivalent of) "The Witch's Headstone and Other Stories" and had a marvellously graveyardy cover.

[Edit to add -- Dear Neil--
I just want to point out a mistake in the post you just published. You said that "M is for Magic" in Italian became "The Witch's Headstone and Other Stories". This actually isn't true, because the title (as you can see on the cover "Il cimitero senza lapidi e altre storie nere") literally means "The graveyard without tombstones and other black stories".

Cecilia from Italy :)]

Lisa Snellings wants me to link to some photos taken some weeks ago of an encounter between between me and some of her poppets. I am pleased to report that the hair is longer now, and that I am no longer a poppet zombie.

There's a lovely review of The Graveyard Book from The Scotsman.

...Neil Gaiman's delightfully creepy little fable, a work of dizzying imagination, suffused with a rich gothic sensibility. I'm always vaguely suspicious of books emblazoned with the puff "set to become a classic", but in the case of The Graveyard Book it might well be the case. Yes, it is fantastical, eerie, exciting and imaginative: but it is also emotionally affecting. Best of all, unlike so many contemporary teenage books in this genre, it actually ends, rather than leaving the reader with a marketing-trick cliff-hanger. If Gaiman wishes to, the characters could no doubt return, but the satisfying closure means it works well as a standalone novel.

and Fidra are reminding people in Edinburgh, well, in Scotland, that tickets to their event have not yet sold out but if you are procrastinating (well, "faffing around" as they put it) they may well be.

Jonathan Ross writes about Watchmen in The Times:


I saw a bumper sticker I approved of yesterday in an airport parking lot, although possibly not for the reasons the people who put it on their car intended. It said,


and I thought, of course it is. Science fiction isn't just monsters and space rockets. It's where I learned about Evolution, for a start. I thought, there should be a whole line of those, saying things like,



and even, for the Zelazny fans,


Probably people would assume that means they aren't true, though, rather than that the definition of science fiction is a very broad one...

And talking about signs seen on cars, the Guardian says this one is an atheist bus ad. Seems more like an amiably agnostic bus ad to me...


Dear Neil,

I just read an article about ghost towns and Cairo, IL, is included in the list.

There are also some very cool examples of abandoned buildings in one of the sidebar links. Great stuff with Halloween only 10 days off.


I like it, although there are a lot of not-abandoned cities in their abandoned cities list, and while Cairo has a population of 3000-odd in a town that once held many, many more people than that, it's not a ghost town. A Google found as a nice little portrait.

I was just wondering if you had seen this story:

Pulling Sci-Fi off of the shelves seems like a terrible idea to me.


But they aren't "pulling Sci-Fi off the shelves". They are not stocking some new books. There's a difference, and it's a huge one.

Borders is obviously having real problems right now. (I got emails when The Graveyard Book came out from Borders managers and workers letting me know that their store had only got a fraction of the number of books that they had specifically ordered, and that's for a "lead title" by a relatively popular author. I remember visiting Borders head office in Ann Arbor almost a decade ago, and telling them that I didn't think much of the Borders website, and being told that that was all right, as they were going to have Amazon take over the Borders website anyway, and commenting that that might not be the wisest way to go, and I don't think it was, although you don't have to be a genius to have been able to predict that one.) Having said that, in the town where I live, over the last 16 years, the nearest real book shop has mostly been a Borders about 45 minutes away, and while it doesn't have everything, it is enormously better than the alternative.

Bookshops have neither infinite shelf-space nor infinite financial resources, and if you only have space and resources enough to put out on the shelves five new SF or Mystery or Horror books this month, then the sixth and the sixteenth books that come out in that field aren't going to get bought or shelved. And even if they are, a lot of them are going to vanish next month, and it's a rare author who remains popular enough to hold his or her shelf-space forever.

That is why specialist SF (and mystery and horror and childrens and so on) bookshops have always done well: they stock the books that regular bookshops don't. Instead of calling for a boycott of Borders for not stocking everything (which is, after all, not what Borders exists for) I think it would make much more sense to point people to the independent shops that DO stock as near to everything in their field as they can, and to promote them: I tried to find a link to a website with a listing of all of them -- DreamHaven and Other Change of Hobbit and Mysterious Galaxy, White Dwarf Books and the rest -- and couldn't find one. All of the smaller specialist bookstores are having a hard time these days, because online retailers do have the illusion of infinite shelf space.

Which, having typed that to figure out what I think, means it is my opinion that if the people blogging about boycotting Borders put their efforts into promoting the independents and the specialist places that are stocking all the books (or as many as they can) -- perhaps making an overall website to find them, more easily than (a good thing, but not at present much use if you want to know where in the world the SF and Fantasy shops are) more books would get sold and we would have a healthier SF and Fantasy field.


I was wondering whether it would be possible to put up MP3s of the readings of the Graveyard Book, because I've been manually recording it using Audacity to put on my iPod, which takes 45-50 minutes of absolute stillness.


I'm afraid not. I did a complete audio recording of The Graveyard Book, in a studio, without crowd noises and such, for iPods. (Here's a link that will work some places in the world, and take you to the iTunes store for The Graveyard Book.) It's for sale on CD (here's the Amazon link). And while I don't mind anyone ripping the audio track off the videos to put on their iPods (there are easier ways than manually recording it, BTW), downloading the videos or whatever, I don't think it's my job to give you everything for free. I'd rather that you listened to or watched The Graveyard B0ok videos, and then bought the CD or download, because that way I can persuade myself that spending three days in a studio recording it was worth it...

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