Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Winning Blip

Winning is good, right? Sure! But winning can also be not so good.

Clare Vanderpool’s “Moon Over Manifest” recently won the John Newbery Medal for outstanding contribution to children's literature. Of course, she was not expecting it. And neither was her publisher. The book had come out last October and the publisher was out of copies.

When a book wins a prize, there’s a small window of opportunity to sell copies. No copies, no sales. Independent bookstores took orders. Amazon listed it as shipping “in 6-10 days” and just kept saying that, day after day. Barnes and Noble said it was not in the system. Libraries could do little more than put patrons on a long waiting list.

Where was it available? In e-stores.

In case you’re wondering, it’s now available in print. If you’d like to read the article I summarized here, you’ll find it in the Los Angeles Times.


  1. Haha oh dear.

    I'm glad they sorted it out though.


  2. That's one of the great advantages of e-books. Turnaround is very fast; it's just about copying a file, no physical printing and shipment involved >:)

    Cold As Heaven

  3. Goodness. :)

    Fortunately with Newbery winners, that window is a little wider. The Newbery list has been around for decades and is a must have for most libraries and schools in the country. Even if it takes a little longer. :)

  4. Ah, that pesky lack of a crystal ball will get you everytime.

  5. So true, Cold as Heaven!

    I love the Newbery list, Miriam. You can find the list for years in the past and usually still find the books on the shelves.

    If only we had a crystal ball, Liza!

  6. Canada's biggest literary prize is The Giller. In 2010 the Giller Prize was awarded to a book called the Sentimentalist by Johanna Skibsrud- it was published by a tiny wonderful Nova Scotian publisher -Gaspereau Press - who does marvelous things with ink and paper. Problem? Not ready for this window - it kept everyone talking for a week or two while they figured it out. A larger publishing company took it on - one that the smaller one said was what they'd be IF they had to go bigger. All was happy here in reading land. I guess. It sure provided for some great debate...
    here's the breaking story:

    Moments after Johanna Skibsrud became the most surprising winner in Scotiabank Giller Prize’s 17-year history, Gaspereau Press co-publisher Gary Dunfield found himself in a makeshift media room, leaning against a pillar and considering the future. He looked exhausted, elated, and a little bit shell-shocked. During the ceremony the famed “Giller effect” had been mentioned numerous times: the degree to which past winners see their sales increase after a win. For instance, last year’s winner, Linden MacIntyre, eventually sold 75,000 copies in hardcover of his novel The Bishop’s Man.

    While there is no doubt Skibsrud’s novel, The Sentimentalists, will enjoy a sales boost, its size remains to be seen. In the past few weeks much has been written about the Gaspereau’s ability — or inability — to meet demand. But now speculation had made way for reality, and Dunfield was faced with this inevitability: There aren’t enough books to go around.

    Luckily there was a happy ending as I said but eeeek!

  7. COOL. I'll check it out. Honestly, I don't ever go to bookstores looking for books anymore. If it's on Amazon or at my public library, that's where I'm looking first anyway.

  8. FYI, I went to my library website and this is what I found:

    6 holds on first copy returned of 12 copies

    Looks like it's a popular book!!!

  9. Hm, so the avenue that the publishing industry long resisted saved the day :)

  10. Definitely an advantage to owning an ereader! :)

  11. Oh Jan, I'm so glad they were able to get the copies out to the public. It's such a small window for the rush of sales. What a story and I felt so sorry for Dunfield.

    Thanks Stephanie. That's good news!

    Stop it! Stop it! I'm already coveting an eReader. (I'm kidding. About stopping, not about the coveting.)

  12. Being "old" and old-fashioned, I still love print books. But I'm converted to e-books. For one thing, I can afford to read more now with my Nook. I could go to the library of course, but that means a trip to it, and sometimes the book's not there! So, e-books CAN save the day sometimes, as I see from some of the comments. What interesting information. I learned something here today. Thanks, Ginger, for your post!
    Ann Best, Author

  13. That's not good! At least it's available now in print.

  14. That was definitely one of those good/bad things. This is a good example of why e-books are becoming more and more popular.

    Thoughts in Progress

  15. I'm with Cold on this - another reason why -books are going to get bigger and bigger in the future.

    Feel sorry for the both authors (Claire Vanderpool and the Canadian author Jan mentioned). Winning a prestigious prize and then not enough copies to go around. Ah well. Such is life.

    Judy (South Africa)

  16. Oops... Hopefully, enough people have ereaders to still boost the author's sales. Get thee one, Helen! ;)

  17. Ouch. Bad guess on print run by the publisher. I hope people were willing to wait for their copy.

  18. Hmmm, I hadn't thought about this happening, but I guess it totally could and did. Glad they worked it out, looks like a wonderful book.

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)

  19. Hi Ann. I hope libraries will soon have e-books to check out.

    It is, isn't it, Mason.

    They're so expensive, Laura! And I hate to spend money.

    It seems they did get copies out, but it took a while since the award happened unexpectedly.

  20. What a delightful surprise! Having recently uploaded my first reprint ebook, I know that it doesn't take long for books to appear on I wonder why the long delay?

  21. That is a real nightmare. And the poor author usually has no control over something that may tank her career. Hope the publisher got the next print run out quickly.

  22. Hard on the author, true, but the prize is so prestigious libraries will definitely wait.
    However, we must remember readers like me, who create their lists when they see the prize announcement, but dawdle about buying.

  23. Let's hope the book continues to sell based on the award.

  24. Ebook is the future. Good to hear they sort out the issue.

    Fire and Cross

  25. Ebooks do seem to be the future, but it won't be a future without print books. And who knows what new format will appear!


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