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.”


You can see the countdown timer here.

I bet there are some smart bookstores that are buying the book from Amazon. The full retail is $27 and Amazon has the books for $15. Every smart small bookstore should be an Amazon Prime member. Then they can get books from Amazon within 2 days. Book went on sale on Amazon on March 22nd. Bookstores could have had the book on their shelf on March 24th.

There are graphic novels I am waiting for currently in stock at Amazon that aren't being "published" until April 5. The big bookstore chain will most likely have them in by this weekend but the comic book stores won't get them until Wednesday. Sadly, the comic book store is usually the one with the best price so I have to wait an extra week to buy things.

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