I just read Jennifer Nix’s opinion piece in the Huffington Post on the Chelsea Green/Obama’s Challenge debacle.
“Even more sad? This week, a hefty faction on the left–primarily independent booksellers (following Barnes and Noble’s lead)–is actively boycotting a brave attempt to bring the book-publishing industry into the 21st century, and effectively trying to keep a progressive, pro-Obama (and fact-based) title called Obama’s Challenge out of the marketplace of ideas.”
Not true my friend. Sure some stores might decide not to carry it, but it’s not like we’re getting together to actively decide to boycott the title. Some will carry it and some won’t. Was Margo Baldwin’s desire to get the books out fast smart? Yes. Do we care that Chelsea Green is having Booksure print them? No. For me and others it’s the exclusive deal Amazon gets. Do they think that having the book only available in one place will really drive the sales? Wouldn’t a blanket nation wide roll out of the book make more sense?
“I hate to tell you, indie booksellers, but this isn’t just about business. It’s about activism and defeating the right, and getting our messages and ideas out in the most effective ways possible. It’s about not shooting ourselves in the proverbial foot, again…Boycotting this book is a mistake, and you know it. Instead of looking backward, find ways to advance your own innovative models and POD services with publishers and the public.”
And will they please stop talking down to us like we’re luddite idiots? This means you Jennifer Nix and you Margo Baldwin.
Why don’t we all cheer when a little publisher from Vermont decides to stand up to the right-wing smear tactics against Obama, with a bold and innovative publishing plan?
Perhaps because this “innovative publishing plan” gives the business advantage to a large corporation? Oh wait, Chelsea Green’s motto is “the politics and practice of sustainable living.” Does this new plan fit in with their motto?
And for the record, I do think the book is important. I just wish they had chosen a better way to put this one out. See, no profanity.
I love the irony of Chelsea Green being annoyed that small bookstores won’t carry the book, but refusing to sell it to them until Amazon has had an exclusive.
If they want small bookstores to carry it, why won’t they allow them to carry it the day it comes out? If it’s so important, why not offer it to all buyers right away instead of giving the internet behemoth a 2-week exclusive on a hot title?
I’m frustrated that some folks have determined that stores who are against Chelsea Green’s distribution plan are also trying to screw Obama.
The problem I have here is that if/when Chelsea Green’s admitted ‘buzz building’ plan with this Amazon-exclusivity agreement works, than more publishers will seek similar deals, continuing to undermine indies. Sigh.
I wonder what Bob Kuttner thinks…
Thought your comments were great; posted about your bookseller counter-response on Jacket Copy.
Did Nix mention that she works for Chelsea Green? It’s in her bio, but I didn’t find it in the post.
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So, your point is that you could have rolled out the book if it were POD’ed by booksure? In the same timeframe as Amazon? ‘Cause that’s the point, really: should CG have delayed release until it could have multiple outlets, or was it better for the purpose of getting the book out EARLIER. And Amazon may have demanded exclusivity as a condition.
Further, as far as “banding together”, it doesn’t take a formal meeting for a group to >effectively
Chelsea Green is supposed to be a part of the green, “small is beautiful” crowd. This exclusive alliance with Amazon does not fit that model – or Chelsea Green’s rhetoric – at all. Adding to the annoyance of the whole matter is the tone of the response from Chelsea Greeners Margo Baldwin and Jennifer Nix, who seem to be acting the part of guest lecturers in a business ethics class. They appear to know everything, while the small booksellers, in the Chelsea Greeners not-so-humble opinion, know nothing.
Oops, last 1/2 of the comment is gone?
It should read:
Further, as far as â€œbanding togetherâ€, it doesnâ€™t take a formal meeting for a group to >effectively
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I’m glad people are taking note of this debacle – the exclusivity of this deal is really the only major problem here. Of course we indie booksellers are going to take umbrage with the deal – as much as we may wholeheartedly embrace the message of the book, we CAN’T SELL IT. By pimping their product out exclusively to Amazon, Chelsea Green has become part of the gross machine that has bankrupted and closed indies everywhere. If they really cared about getting the book into as many hands as possible, they wouldn’t ostracize the entire bookselling community with their deal with the devil.