We Gotta Ask


I mentioned in my news tidbit that I made a bookstore run the other day. To be honest, I was a little shocked at how FEW books I saw on the shelves.

I already mentioned, I specifically went to pick up DragonFire by Donita Paul (WaterBrook). While copies of DragonSpell, DragonQuest, and DragonKnight were there, they had no copies of the most recent release. We are not talking about some obscure title by an unknown author, here. This is a well-know author and series, and the books sell like hot cakes.

Yesterday as I was writing my post, I visited a number of blogs and Web sites, among them Jeffrey Overstreet’s Auralia’s Journal. There in one of his posts was a picture of Auralia’s Colors in a Barnes and Noble, shelved with other fantasy titles, and even face out. So my question is, Why didn’t I see it at my local Christian book store?

Happily I did find a copy of Robin Parrish’s Fearless, and even more copies of Relentless (Bethany). There were also copies of Gregory Spencer’s Guardian of the Veil (Howard), and one remaining copy of Sharon Hinck’s The Restorer (NavPress), but none of her women’s fiction from Bethany.

There was also no Austin Boyd, the Mars Hill Classified series (NavPress); Chris Wally’s The Shadow and Night (Tyndale); Kathryn Mackel’s Vanished (Realms); Wayne Thomas Batson’s Isle of the Sword; Jonathan Rogers’ The Wilderking Series (B&H); or Bryan Davis’s Oracles of Fire (AMG).

To be honest, the missing titles and authors extend beyond fantasy. For example, there was only one title of Brandilyn Collins on the shelf, and it wasn’t the latest release, Crimson Eve.

What books did they have? The shelves were dominated by a few authors—Ted Dekker, Beverly Lewis, Jerry Jenkins, Karen Kingsbury. Yes, there were smatterings of others, but is it any wonder the same few authors continually make the CBA best-seller lists?

I know some people are decrying the book-selling changes taking place—the availability of Christian fiction in ABA stores and in discount outlets, not to mention the on-line avenues. One of the fears I heard repeated regarding this trend was the possibility that fewer and fewer titles would actually make it to the shelves because the ABA and the discount stores would only be interested in the biggest sellers.

Uh, am I missing something? Isn’t that exactly what this particular CBA store (part of a national chain) is doing?

I don’t pretend to know all that goes into getting books on real shelves. I’ve read some interesting accounts, to be sure, and they usually describe a process that has little to do with content or quality. But one thing I do know: When a customer ASKS about a book, and especially if they order a book, the store managers respond.

All that to say, I’m thinking it is time to have another fantasy challenge. You up for it?

Published in: on September 14, 2007 at 11:58 am  Comments (14)  
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