Manipulative Purchases?

A just released YA debut novel by Lani Sarem called HANDBOOK FOR MORTALS has thrown up some red flags around the publishing world and bestseller lists. Until its release on August 15, 2017, there hadn’t been much press related to the book or the author. It’s the first book published by GeekNation, and it hit #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list in the first week of sales.  And while reviews on Goodreads, Twitter followers, and Facebook likes reached a fever, it started to be a little suspicious when each social media site had the same number of followers…all people without previous book reviews or posts.

So, how exactly does an unknown author, published by an unknown publisher, with very little prior advertising, rise to the top spot on the NYT list overnight? No one could quite comprehend it…until they started doing some background checks.

It seems that there were many large pre-orders and first week sales placed for the book at companies like Barnes and Noble, and Amazon. But none of the orders were large enough to raise any suspicions from the booksellers. In fact, it only made them consider ordering more copies for their stores in order to cover the possible demand for the book. Once the book reached number one, however, the New York Times had to stop and look into allegations that something was up.

As it turns out, it was something called “manipulative purchasing”. Geek Nation was behind the mass-purchasing, the reviews, and the social media frenzy. They knew just how many books to order so as not to arouse too much suspicion, and claimed they were only trying to drum up excitement for a book that was actually written as a result of a film already in development, not the other way around. While it is normal for an author to purchase large orders of their own book in preparation for an upcoming book tour or conference, Sarem’s claim that she needed the books for a ComicCon event seemed slightly defensive.

The New York Times eventually pulled the book from its Bestseller list, saying it “did not meet their criterion for inclusion”. After the somewhat devious promotion, the book actually increased in sales, which may eventually make it eligible once again for ranking on the list, but now with a slightly tarnished cap.

Would the book have reached such success on its own? We’ll never know, and it’s sad that the author didn’t really get the chance to try. Here is a summary of the book:

Zade Holder has always been a free-spirited young woman, from a long dynasty of tarot-card readers, fortunetellers, and practitioners of magick. Growing up in a small town and never quite fitting in, Zade is determined to forge her own path. She leaves her home in Tennessee to break free from her overprotective mother Dela, the local resident spellcaster and fortuneteller. Zade travels to Las Vegas and uses supernatural powers to become part of a premiere magic show led by the infamous magician Charles Spellman. Zade fits right in with his troupe of artists and misfits. After all, when everyone is slightly eccentric, appearing “normal” is much less important. Behind the scenes of this multimillion-dollar production, Zade finds herself caught in a love triangle with Mac, the show’s good-looking but rough-around-the-edges technical director and Jackson, the tall, dark, handsome and charming bandleader.

Hopefully fans of YA fantasy will draw their own conclusions.

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What Books Are We Buying?

CBC has an interesting list of Canadian books that we’re buying this month. And it’s not surprising to see that Madeleine Thien’s DO NOT SAY WE HAVE NOTHING is top of the list. Giller Prize winners are always a favourite!

CANADIAN FICTION:

  1. Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien
  2. milk and honey by Rupi Kaur
  3. The Witches of New York by Ami McKay
  4. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood​
  5. By Gaslight by Steven Price
  6. The Only Café by Linden MacIntyre
  7. Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis
  8. A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena
  9. ​The Handmaid’s Tale (TV Tie-in Edition) by Margaret Atwood​
  10. One Brother Shy by Terry Fallis

CANADIAN NON-FICTION:

  1. No Is Not Enough by Naomi Klein
  2. Embers by Richard Wagamese
  3. The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King
  4. The Golden Spruce by John Vaillant
  5. The Reason You Walk by Wab Kinew
  6. On Trails by Robert Moor
  7. You Might Be from Canada If… by Michael de Adder
  8. The Right to Be Cold by Sheila Watt-Cloutier
  9. Unsettling Canada by Arthur Manuel & Grand Chief Ronald M. Derrickson
  10. Secret Path by Gord Downie & Jeff Lemir

CANADIAN KIDS:

  1. Love You Forever by Robert Munsch, illustrated by Sheila McGraw
  2. Carson Crosses Canada by Linda Bailey, illustrated by Kass Reich
  3. Canada ABC by Paul Covello
  4. The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch, illustrated by Michael Martchenko
  5. Heartwood Hotel by Kallie George, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin
  6. Narwhal by Ben Clanton
  7. The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield, illustrated by Terry Fan & Eric Fan
  8. ​Good Morning Canada by Andrea Lynn Beck
  9. Big Bear Hug by Nicholas Oldland
  10. The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands

THE SECRET

When THE SECRET by Rhonda Byrne was released in 2009, people couldn’t get their hands on it fast enough. The book claimed to hold simple “rules” to getting whatever you wanted in life. And it remained on the Best Seller list for three years, sparking rumours of a movie version of the self-help tome.

But it never seemed to happen. An Australian company produced a movie, but it was never released in the US and fizzled locally. Here we are, several years later, and a big budget version starring Katie Holmes is going to be made and released in the US.

Since this is a non-fiction, self-help book, the movie version will feature a lovely family story about a single mother who hires a handyman to fix her home. While he works, he regales the young widow with his beliefs about gathering the things you want from the Universe by simply asking for them. The producers hope it will not only satisfy the longtime fans of THE SECRET, but also to “ripple out and and touch millions more people in the world”.

Have you read THE SECRET? Were you a fan when it first came out? Did you follow the guide in order to bring things to you? If you did, are you excited about this movie? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Hey, Young Writers!

If you have a young writer at home aged 7-11, we’re running a series of four writing workshops this fall. We’ll discuss what makes a good story, how to make a story better, and work on fun aspects of writing overall.

This workshops requires registration, and the participants are expected to attend all four, from beginning to end. (Sorry, once we start, we can’t add participants.) We’re meeting Tuesdays from 6-7pm, September 12 – October 3rd. At the end of the series, we’ll be posting the stories on our writing blog, and in the library! It’s going to be exciting!

Money Money

Forbes has released its 2017 list of the top earning authors, according to its estimates. The list covers the 12 month period from May 2016 – May 2017, and falls in this order:

1. JK Rowling $95 million
2. James Patterson $87 million
3. Jeff Kinney $21 million
4. Dan Brown $20 million
5. Stephen King $15 million
6. John Grisham $14 million
6. Nora Roberts $14 million
8. Paula Hawkins $13 million
9. EL James $11.5 million
10. Danielle Steel $11 million
10. Rick Riordan .$11million

No real surprises here…except for maybe the fact that EL James is still on the list. If there hadn’t been a movie based on her FIFTY SHADES OF GREY series, would we still be talking about her? I’m pretty sure a lot of second hand booksellers have been overwhelmed with the number of copies of FIFTY SHADES that they have on hand–enough to make art out of them, and more. And here at the library, while it still circulates, it hasn’t been on demand since the series first came out, even with a movie in theatres.

Don’t you find it an interesting difference between the number one and number ten slots?

 

The Commuter Pig Keeper

THE COMMUTER PIG KEEPER: A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO KEEPING PIGS WHEN TIME IS YOUR MOST PRECIOUS COMMODITY by Michaela Giles, has won an illustrious award—The Bookseller’s Diagram prize for the worst book title this year.

Author Giles was really excited about the prize, which came right after one of her prize pigs was crowned supreme champion in a rare breeds show. While there is no monetary prize, the person who nominates the book wins wine. This sounds like a perfectly acceptable way to get people to participate!

The cover of this book is really cute, and I don’t even really mind the title (which won over a book called LOVE YOUR LADY LANDSCAPE). But this brings up the question, what is the weirdest book title you’ve ever seen? And did you read it?

 

Man Booker Prize 2017 Longlist

If you love books, you’ve probably heard of the Man Booker Prize. It aims to award the best book of the year published in English in the United Kingdom, and awards the author with 50,000 pounds as the prize. But more importantly, it is a wonderful way to promote amazing books and writing. It’s always very exciting to wait for the short list, but the long list was just announced.

Here is the full list of authors and their books:

The 2017 longlist:

4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster (US) (Faber & Faber)
Days Without End by Sebastian Barry (Ireland) (Faber & Faber)
History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund (US) (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (Pakistan-UK) (Hamish Hamilton)
Solar Bones by Mike McCormack (Ireland) (Canongate)
Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor (UK) (4th Estate)
Elmet by Fiona Mozley (UK) (JM Originals)
The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy (India) (Hamish Hamilton)
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (US) (Bloomsbury Publishing)
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie (UK-Pakistan) (Bloomsbury Circus)
Autumn by Ali Smith (UK) (Hamish Hamilton)
Swing Time by Zadie Smith (UK) (Hamish Hamilton)
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (US) (Fleet)

How many of these have you read?