Just before the new year, I finished Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch. It was incredible. I couldn’t put it down. I read the hardcover, and at 700+ pages, it was hefty — but that didn’t keep me from lugging it everywhere, because (did I say this already?) I couldn’t put it down! It might be my favourite book of 2018 (ok, tied with Priestdaddy). I copied passages from the final pages into my notebook because I was so moved by them.
The Goldfinch came out a while ago. Books aren’t like fashion and Pantone colour trends. Fiction is life! There’s no expiration date on a novel.
But bookstores have to hustle for new releases, because that’s how the business of selling books is set up.
While novels can take years to write (thank you Donna Tartt), a book is given about four months to make a profit for the publisher. During that time (if the publisher has enough money to pay for promotion) the book might be displayed on promo tables in bookstores like Indigo and Barnes & Noble.
After that window, it’s over: the sales and marketing department usually moves on to the next new book in the schedule.
A lot of people don’t know about this window, or that bookstores can send unsold books back if they haven’t sold quickly enough, not unlike a consignment shop.
Do an author a rare kindness and request an older release from your local bookseller. You’ll make an impression at the store, you’ll feel inspired when you discover the one that got away, and you’ll be subverting the dominant marketing paradigm all at once.
Win, win, win.
Ten incredible books you missed the first time
Girl Nobody, Tomek Trzyna
The Ocean At the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman
The Emperor’s Children, Claire Messud
Monkey Beach, Eden Robinson
Bobcat and Other Stories, Rebecca Lee
Black Swan Green, David Mitchell
How Should A Person Be?, Sheila Heti
My Year of Meats, Ruth Ozeki
Woman Hollering Creek, Sandra Cisneros
The Golden Mean, Annabel Lyon
What are your favourite older releases? What did I miss the first time around? Please share your recommendations in the comments below.