Following the WSJ’s story about impatient Americans ordering anticipated fiction that has been released in the UK but not yet published in the US, the NYT files a story about significant business in the US for the British edition from Quercus of Stieg Larsson’s third book The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. Knopf currently has that title scheduled for a May 25, 2010 release.
While no precise numbers on import sales are reported, the UK version of Hornet’s Nest “tied for No. 5 on the bestseller list of the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association in October.”
One aspect of the NYT story that’s not made and explicit, and is of concern to some trade publishers: bulk imports for resale by US retailers (portrayed as a savvy “way to lure customers into paying premium prices”) are a violation of copyright law.
The NYT reports, “Kizmin Reeves, co-owner of Partners & Crime, said she has sold close to 80 copies of the book. She bought them, as anyone can, on Amazon.co.uk.” But “anyone” is allowed to import only “one copy…for the private use of the importer” under US law. Another retailer, Murder by the Book in Houston, “has sold 150 copies, obtained through a British wholesaler.” They claim that it’s ok to violate the law in order to compete with online vendors: “It’s not fair to not be able to offer the same books that people can get online.”
Other retailers, like Powell’s, say they are not importing the UK edition, though it’s positioned as “mainly to preserve their relationships with Knopf.” Northshire Bookstore has sold eight copies, but up until they spoke to a reporter for a national newspaper, “I’m not shouting it from the mountaintop,” said store buyer Stan Hynds.
The Times does also note, “such importing happens occasionally but usually not in large numbers. Scholastic, the United States publisher of the Harry Potter books, had to ask distributors not to bring in British editions on the first three volumes of the series, when the books were published there first.”
In other bookselling news, Lambda Rising founder Deacon Maccubbin plans to write his own book “life at Lambda Rising.”
Milwaukee-area bookstore start-up Open Book “has sent an apology to its member-owners for misrepresenting itself as a co-operative venture but is continuing to solicit money before correcting its status.” President Keith Schmitz says they were given incorrect advice on their incorporation and will rectify their registration papers with the state. The Journal Sentinel says “more than 600 people who gave money to the business for a co-op membership.”
In a press release promoting their recently revamped web site, Copperfield’s Books of California (which has eight stores) says that the new web content along with recently-added in-store kiosks has increased sales. “After three months of website operation and just a month of kiosk installation, Copperfield’s Books reports both a dramatic increase in online unique visitors as well as increased sales in its stores.”