August 11, 2013

Stability In Bookselling?

by Alan Beatts

The last few years have seen some pretty big shakeups in the bookselling industry.  Probably the biggest shakeup has been ebooks' rise in adoption, driven by Amazon's commitment to the market and the popularity of tablet computers.  Added to that, the closure of Borders Books, the increased success of self-publishing and the contraction of the whole publishing business in the wake of the Great Recession have made for a bumpy time for everyone in the business of books.

However, I think that we're heading into a much more stable time for the business.  I don't foresee anything on the horizon in the near term that will cause any significant changes.  Of course, it's very difficult to predict innovations and so it's certainly possible that something will appear next week that will knock the whole business on its ear again.  But I'd be happy to bet that we'll have a few years, perhaps as many as five, before something truly notable happens.  Here's why --

July Bestsellers


1) Neptune's Brood by Charles Stross
2) The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
3) Sister Mine by Nalo Hopkinson
4) Quarry by Iain Banks
5) The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson
6) Sold for Endless Rue by Madeleine Robins
7) The Long War by Stephen Baxter and Terry Pratchett
8) The Goliath Stone by Larry Niven and Matthew Joseph Harrington
9) Storm Surge by Taylor Anderson
10) Earth Afire by Orson Scott Card


1) A Game of Thrones by George R,R, Martin
2) The Long Earth by Stephen Baxter and Terry Pratchett
3) Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
4) Slow Apocalypse by John Varley
5) Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
6) Dirty Streets of Heaven by Tad Williams
7) Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
8) 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson tie with Apocalypse Codex by Charles Stross
9) Wicked Bronze Ambition by Glen Cook
10) A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin

Trade Paperbacks

1) Tree of Life, Book of Death: The Treasures of Grania Davis by Grania Davis
2) World War Z by Max Brooks
3) The Melancholy of Mechagirl by Catherynne M. Valente
4) Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
5) Deadman's Road by Joe R. Lansdale

July News Roundup

* LITTLE BROTHER by Cory Doctorow is the One City / One Book title for 2013!  In addition to a blur of other wonderful events, there's a LITTLE BROTHER scavenger hunt, starting at the San Francisco Main Library and continuing through Civic Center to the Mission.  It's free to sign up, but you must register your team by September 13th.  More details here: <>

* Charming bit of lit-geek humor.  Thanks, Mikael, for the link: <>

* Overheard in the Cafe:
Q: "Well, what do normal people think about, anyway?"
A: "How the heck should _I_ know?!"

* An asteroid has been renamed in honor of the late Iain M. Banks: <>

* During a recent email exchange, author Richard A. Lupoff and I were discussing his fifteen years as the in-house book reviewer for Algol/Starship Magazine.  I asked if he remembered many of the books he reviewed, and he cracked me up with the following anecdote, which he kindly gave me permission to quote here: 
"As for the reviews in that huge stack of paper, the only one that I remember was a review of Avram Davidson's fur-jockstrap novel, URSUS OF ULTIMA THULE.  I described it as 'a very, very bad book.'  The next time I saw Avram was at a science fiction convention.  Avram drew me aside and in a quiet voice said, 'One "very" would have sufficed.'"

* We're tremendously sorry to report the death of author, musician, activist and counterculture legend Mick Farren.  Farren died after collapsing onstage on Saturday, August 27th. <>

* David Gerrold responds to Orson Scott Card.  Orson Scott Card supplied the quote below to Entertainment Weekly magazine <>, following much media attention focused on an intended boycott of the movie "Ender's Game" because of Scott's well-publicized homophobic views.  Below Scott's quote is author David Gerrold's reply, from Gerrold's Facebook page.  (I have quoted them here so readers don't have to sign in to Facebook to read it.)

August Upcoming Events

Seth Harwood, IN BROAD DAYLIGHT (Thomas & Mercer, Trade Paperback, $14.95) Saturday, August 17th at 3:00 pm

SF in SF (at the Variety Preview Room in the Hobart Building, 582 Market Street) with authors Chaz Brenchley and Laura Anne Gilman - Saturday, August 17th at 7:00 pm

Richard Kadrey, KILL CITY BLUES (Harper Voyager, Hardcover, $24.99) Sunday, August 18th at 3:00 pm

Lara Parker, DARK SHADOWS: WOLF MOON RISING (Tor Books, Trade Paperback, $15.99) Friday, August 23rd at 7:00 pm

Rhys Bowen, HEIRS AND GRACES (Berkley, Hardcover, $24.95) Saturday, August 24th at 3:00 pm

Kim Stanley Robinson, SHAMAN (Orbit, Hardcover, $27.00) Saturday, September 7th at 2:00 pm (Please note this event starts an hour EARLIER than our usual events, at 2:00 pm.)

Seanan McGuire, CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT (Roc, Mass Market, $7.99) Saturday, September 14th from 5:00 - 8:00 pm

Janet Dawson, DEATH RIDES THE ZEPYHR (Perseverence Press, Trade Paperback, $15.95) Sunday, September 15th at 3:00 pm

Coming up in the next few months, we're delighted to host L.E. Modesitt, Jr., Cat Valente, Steven Brust, and many, many more!

Event details after the break