I'm really glad this came up because it's given me a chance to give voice to something that's always bugged me about the whole big vs little bookstore debate. The American writer Craig Clevenger, who publishes with this wonderful little concern, recently wrote on his site of his difficulty in squaring independent bookstores who constantly showcase their independent cred but "don’t support writers from independent publishers, i.e., me."
He goes on to say that he's had independents tell him they don't stock his books because of space concerns, smallish sales or whatever. Obviously, upon hearing that he wonders why he should continue to shout out to independent shops or fork over money himself.
Fair question. Any independent bookseller who doesn't at least try to hand sell independent titles regularly should turn in their superhero costume and shill at a chain.
Specifically in Clevenger's case, Macadam Cage is a hell of a press; defiantly literary, well edited and designed and they have a remarkable list. Everyone knows about the Time Travelers Wife, but not so many know that it was Macadam Cage who published it in the States and tended it's fire until it took off.
Most of us at the shop have cracked at least one of their titles, and you know, we do what we can with them. We have the new book in stock too, Craig.
But if a small bookstore is merely replicating a fraction of a chain stores inventory, then that's not much of an option.
Canada has lots of great small presses and of course our reach into the U.S reveals hundreds of them. The smaller presses are home to some wonderful stuff and because they don't have as big a machine to feed, their books are also a damn sight cheaper than stuff from the larger houses.
If only a small fraction of people who read Mark Haddon's Curious Incident etc. etc. would pick up this, well then they'd have a better book in their hands for less, I suppose. These kinds of examples are endless, and the whole reason for being in an independent shop is being able to put the good stuff into play. The bestseller list will still be there whether I pay much attention to it or not.
Posted by Dave