Release Dates and Double Standards
New York Times: To publicize the release of “The Pale King,” a posthumously published novel by David Foster Wallace that is set in an Internal Revenue Service processing center, Hachette Book Group created a marketing campaign centered on the traditional tax day: April 15. Except that’s not really when it went on sale.
Amazon and Barnes & Noble were selling the book on their Web sites on Wednesday, long before many bookstores would receive copies. Nicole Dewey, a spokeswoman for Little, Brown, part of Hachette, said the official on-sale date for the book was March 22, but the publication date — when the book is available everywhere — remained April 15. (A countdown clock on the Hachette Web site ticks away the days, hours and minutes until April 15.) “I don’t really understand the confusion,” Ms. Dewey said. “This happens all the time. There’s nothing unusual about it.”
It was a distinction lost on many bookstores, who erupted in protest on Wednesday when they heard that Amazon was already selling the hotly anticipated book.
“Outrageous,” said Zack Zook, the general manager and events coordinator at BookCourt, an independent store in Brooklyn. “If stuff like this keeps happening, booksellers are going to start suing publishers.” Kelly von Plonski, the owner of Subterranean Books in St. Louis, said she was “irate” after hearing on Wednesday that the book was already on sale. She had planned a midnight release party for April 14, the night before she thought the book was being released. “I’m really, really angry about it,” she said. “Add it to the list of advantages that Amazon has been given.”