Wednesday, October 15, 2008

ethel the aardvark goes quantity surveying...

A bit jet-lagged and I have a head like a muffin right now. All is vague, and most conversations end with me saying, "Probably you should email me and tell me that we had this conversation". Which is fine, I suppose, given that the cure is just resting, catching up on sleep and, perhaps, walking the dog for a day or two.

The charts are out, and The Graveyard Book is indeed at Number One. And as I typed that I got a call from Elise my editor to say we're still there at number one for the second week running -- which is an achievement for a book I keep being told that nobody can find. My favourite account of this is where an attempt to buy The Graveyard Book turns into something approaching this:

(The visual track has been lost, so here is the audio and some stills).

And then we have a plaintive wail from Melbourne...

Hi Neil,

I find that the response of book stores in Australia to the upcoming November 1 release of The Graveyard Book to be lackluster at best.

I live in Melbourne and have been enquiring at every retailer in the CBD and surrounds about the release date, hoping that one store might have ordered advance copies. I found that most of the larger franchise stores don't seem to know about it or even to care enough to meet the release date.

This confuses me as I would have thought that The Graveyard Book would have been hyped up quite a bit after your visit here earlier this year.

The closest Borders store in Melbourne has bothered only to order five copies!

Considerering I intend to purchase more than one copy, I am worried for myself and my fellow Aussie fans that have been forced to wait and extra month for The Graveyard book to come out down-under.

I wish indeed that Melbourne had a Kinokuyniya like Singapores, or even in Sydney (which is hard for a Melburnian like myself to admit).


Hmmm. Speaking here as the author of the book in question...

I think my main suggestion, would be to call bookshops and see if they have it, and to reserve your copy if they do. Australian publishers Allen and Unwin back in Sydney will have lots of copies, which they want to sell in volume, and if bookshops sell their copies they will (we hope) order more and the books should reach the shops extremely fast. It's not like the replacement copies in Melbourne are going to travel by ship from England.

One possibility for the problem you're having finding the book in Australia (apart from it not having got there yet) is you might need to ask about two different ISBNS: There's the childrens' edition which they are publishing in November, and the adult edition which is, according to the webpage, coming out in December.

I was told that Borders in the US have noticed that they've sold lots of copies of The Graveyard Book despite the difficulties people have had finding it, and that they're now planning to move some copies to the front of the store to make it easier to find. Which fills my heart with love for Borders.

And my heart is already filled with love for the independent stores around the world that have placed it wherever in the shop they wanted to, and for people in the big chain stores that are ignoring corporate edicts and putting the books in piles near the front.

One thing I'd suggest for people who work in bookshops, if it's the kind of shop that has "staff picks", you could make The Graveyard Book a staff pick, which would move some copies nearer the front of the store. Also, Hallowe'en is coming, and if you have Hallowe'en displays, for children or for adults, you could make sure that you have copies of The Graveyard Book on both tables.

I've heard from a few individual shoppers who have been taken to carrying surplus copies of The Graveyard Book around bookshops and putting them where they feel they ought to be. It's not something I'd recommend, mostly because it can result in upsetting the staff when they try and send people to the actual places their computers tell them that the books are.

On the other hand, placing the books you like (or that were written by your friends) face out, if they are only spine out, is something that no jury will ever convict you for.


William Gibson has a line of bags named after him! (Which is fun. I don't want a line of bags named after me, which sort of removes the envy factor, but if there was a line of William Gibson fountain pens, I'd be greenly envious. If you wish to do a line of Neil Gaiman fountain pens, I am so there. As long as they're cool.)

William Carlos Williams was a bad flatmate.

My assistant Lorraine found a home for the two Bengal Cats she was fostering, and is now going to foster an "F1" -- half asian leopard cat, half domestic. I wish her luck...

And this one made me happy -- also, I suspect, from Australia:

G'day Neil.

Thank you. If you hadn't mentioned the influences on "The Graveyard Book", I'd never have read Kipling's wonderful "The Jungle Book" (and then gone on to "The Second Jungle Book", which I think is an even better read).

I never suspected that the stories in both books were as well written and entertaining as some of Kipling's other short works ("The Man Who Would Be King" and "As Easy As A.B.C." come to mind). Walt Disney took great liberties with the stories (surprise, surprise) which turned me off reading the books for over 30 years. When they eventually thaw him out he'll have a lot to answer for ;-)

So thank you once again, and I'm looking forward to reading "The Graveyard Book" as soon as it arrives in the mail.



And finally, I'd remembered an Onion article from almost eight years ago, and wondered how well it held up today...

And it held up better than I'd expected.


PS: According to Reuters, Bloomsbury is doing fine during the credit crisis, and "Recently released titles by Heston Blumenthal, JK Rowling and Neil Gaiman had also proved popular." What one thing do two out of the three autumn books referred to (and all the authors) have in common?

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