This is why people buy cars


Yesterday after taking my son on our usual swimming trip, we bought ourselves bus transfers and headed out to a few local bookstores to sign copies of Child of Fire.

Details and narrative behind the cut, along with a little talk about public transportation.

First stop was Elliott Bay Bookstore, where visiting Clarion West writers have their readings and signings (at least, they used to, but I’m not sure if they moved it or not. I can’t go now that I have a kid). They didn’t have the book in stock, and “might have a few in a couple weeks.” Thanks, but I didn’t think I would be stopping by again to check.

Next stop was University of Washington Bookstore: I met Duane, who runs the sf/f section of the store and arranges readings and signings for visiting authors. It’s too late for me to arrange that (thank god) but it was useful to say hello, local guy here. And he’s a nice guy, although I’ll admit that, with my mildly damaged hearing, I struggled to hear everything he said.

Next was the Barnes & Noble at the University Village. My son and I quickly found the book in the new sf/f section, but there were only three in stock. Had they sold so many in under two weeks? The woman at the information desk said there were eight on hand. Then she pulled the front book off the shelf and revealed that the other two books were by some other author who’s not even me.

Much searching followed, and it was revealed that the books were actually downstairs on the new paperbacks display–facing the door as you enter, in fact. Co-op placement! Thanks, Del Rey!

I signed and chatted with the lady at the desk. She was impressed with the Jim Butcher quote on the cover, which continues to surprise me that it comes up so often. I’ve never paid much attention to blurbs myself, but I guess I should file this in the category of Ways I’m Different From Most Of The People In The World.

She also told me to send my friends to the stores to buy books–the more books they sell off the shelf, the more likely they are to re-order, and the more likely they are to order the next book. So, buying the book online helps the author, but buying them at a physical store helps slightly more.

That said, I don’t much care where people purchase the book. I’m grateful for every reader.

After that, we took another bus out to Northgate for our final B&N. The book also had downstairs new paperback display, and it was easy to find now that I knew where to look. Like the other store, they had eight books on the shelves. Had they both ordered eight and not sold any? Had they ordered more and the number was a coincidence? Those are things I don’t want to think about.

After that, it was time to hit the Toys R Us for the boy’s reward–paid in Legos, ‘natch–and then the bus ride home.

We left the gym at 11 am. We returned home at 5:30. That’s six and a half hours to visit four bookstores, one toy store and a nice lunch in the U Village. I’m grateful for the public transit system we have, truly. We pinch many pennies because we don’t pay for gas, insurance or unexpected repairs, but damn, the way it eats up the hours is painful.

Did I mention the stuff we bought? My son grabbed the new Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days right off the cart at the UW Bookstore register (and the NY Times has an article on the series, too)–it hadn’t even been shelved yet. He also picked up a Calvin & Hobbes collection, the sixth volume of Flight, a “spy kit” and a tear-off calendar with funny dog pictures. Plus some stuff for me. All of which were bought at the three stores that carried my book, ‘natch. sales rank status: After floating up into six figures over the weekend (and bringing me a bit of despair) this morning the ranking dropped almost down into four-figures this morning. Roller-coaster! What fun!

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