Some of you might have read recently that I've been selling my books via makeshift pushcart at farmers markets in the Northeast, namely the Boston area, Portland, Maine and New York City. I've been having a lot of fun meeting my readers, and frankly, selling a fair amount of books --- 106 in five weeks about seven appearances].
Part of the reason I've been handselling books by pushcart relates to the difficulties of a relatively unknown writer getting review space and space on bookstore shelves, and I seemed to have found the perfect solution, selling books, meeting readers, and enjoying some really nice summer weather.
Today I discovered that the largest independent bookstore in Cambridge, who had been carrying my book when it first came out, will no longer be carrying my book. In fact, it turns out, when they found that I was selling my books via pushcart at farmers markets in Waltham, Wayland and Carlisle Massachusetts, they decided to send all my books back, with the intention of not carrying them at all. Strangely, it had only been a few weeks since my collection had been prominently featured in their e-mail newsletter that was sent out to some 40,000 readers. I was told bluntly that they would no longer be selling my book because I was selling the book myself. Shocked, I asked a second and a third time, as I could not believe that I could possibly have offended an 80-year-old bookstore.
In today's market a writer is required to be innovative when it comes to promoting his/her books, and it came as a complete surprise to me that this venerable bookstore would act so small-mindedly and mean-spiritedly, essentially cutting off a writer trying to make a name for himself. This certainly underscores how writers are subject to the often random whims of book buyers and store managers, and has a chilling effect on all of us who are pushing their own work. Certainly no store is obligated to carry any writer's books, but to be so bluntly told that they will not be selling my book because I was doing so myself boggles the mind. In fact, I wasn't even selling my books in Cambridge, and certainly not in Harvard Square.
I wonder whether any of you may have some advice as to how I might proceed from here. Certainly, I will go on selling my books, one book at a time, by pushcart, but I feel that something needs to be said or done.
I am shocked, surprised, and really disappointed in this sort of pettiness. I'd love to hear your thoughts.