Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bigger Isn't Always Better

Apart from the fear of toppling over, like Borders, the idea of size is something interesting to consider to consider in the grand scheme of literature, publishing and reading: bigger isn't always better.  I like independently owned books stores, small publishing houses and the authors they work with for the same reason I like the book blogging community: they are easier to get to know (more personal), and the chances are higher that you'll come away with a really great book.

Recently, the winners of the first annual Independent Literary Awards were announced, and the winner for Literary Fiction was Safe From the Sea by Peter Geye, published by Unbridled Books (see my review).  The author's and publisher's appreciation and respect for the awards (and book bloggers and readers in general)  has made the awards process so much more fulfilling than it might have been, although I didn't really consider that aspect while reading the shortlist.

Lyndsey at Amused, Bemused and Confused, one of the judges for the Indie Lit Awards in Literary Fiction, interviewed Peter, and his replies are such a delight to read (see the full interview here).  Whether you typically enjoy author interviews or not, this is one you should check out.  It doesn't happen very often that I enjoy an interview.  (No offense meant toward anyone--it is a personal defect, I am certain.  My mind drifts and I start to wonder if I have some odd form of ADD that inhibits me from concentrating on single paragraph responses.)  This interview, however, was an exception.

I'm looking forward to more writing from Peter Geye, and will definitely be getting my hands on more fiction from Unbridled Books.  If you want to know more, check out these links:


  1. I'm reading Safe from the Sea right now-- on your recommendation. I can't wait to read the author interview and look into Unbridled Books. Thanks for the links.

    One good thing that large book companies can provide is a bigger choice-- and also ereaders and the large ebook market. I think that's where Border's went wrong. They didn't jump into the newest thing going and got left in the dust. I'm purchasing ebooks now nearly as much as I purchase regular books. There's nothing I like better than a beautiful hardback book, but I like ebooks for the convenience and price.

    Unfortunately, I don't know of any independently owned small book stores in my area except for used book stores and rare bookstores.

  2. Thanks for such a thoughtful comment, Heidi. (I so hope you are enjoying Safe From the Sea!)

    I was talking to my husband last night about all this...I find it to be fascinating conversation. We were comparing small press and indie book stores to independent films--they seem to be gaining popularity somewhat, but there is still the need for the big bookstore or film production company, because they are able to provide things that will appeal to a larger number a people (whether this is simply because of the style of the book/movie or just the fact that--like you said--they can provide a bigger choice).

    It is also interesting to look into the possibilities of what Border's did wrong. I agree that part of it is that they weren't keeping up with the trends. Also, growing and shrinking a company is such a tricky thing to do. Not only in how you do it, but when. We own a business (sadly it is not book related!) and that issue is a huge challenge for my husband.

    An article I was reading mentioned that Amazon will soon have 50% of the market for America's book sales (physical & e-book combined). With a force like that, in addition to the economy, how are two other big book stores supposed to find enough business? It has made me think about how/where I spend my book money...I don't have it all figured out yet, that's for sure, but it made me feel like other companies need my support more than Amazon does.

  3. Great points. I know nothing about the publishing world, only about books from the reader's perspective. 50% of the market share in books is huge! I didn't know that little tidbit of information.

    It is definitely food for thought.


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