I'm sure most of my cohorts are aware that March is National Brain Injury Awareness Month, Workplace Eye Health and Safety Month, and, of course, National Nutrition Month. But few are aware that it's National Roger Morris Publication Month. Taking Comfort was published here early in March, and his newest tome, The Gentle Axe, hit the streets here a couple of days ago.
That's me, Rene-Magritte-style, with my elegant hardback copy (and our dwarf lemon tree, just to give it some California cred).
And how is distribution? I'd rate it as very good, though my first experience today made me doubtful. The Huntington Beach Barnes & Noble shelves seemed untouched by Roger's book, so I asked at the info desk. I made the mistake of asking under the name "Roger Morris" rather than evil twin "RN", and all the computer found were about a thousand nonfiction books by some historian. So I asked for Gentle Axe, but she entered it as Gentle Acts...and so on.
Once we got through the low comedy phase, the computer insisted they had a number of copies...but they couldn't find them, no, not in Literature and Fiction, not in Mystery, not in New Arrivals. (The woman who was assisting me finally decided they simply hadn't been unpacked and brought out of the back room yet.)
On the other hand, at Borders Costa Mesa we strolled in and immediately found four copies sitting on the shelf in Mystery, flanked by David Morrell and John Mortimer (and one of those damned "Cat Who Did Something Or Another" books. A Cat Who Cookbook, if you please).
Half-crazed with success, we went across the street to the Costa Mesa Barnes & Noble (which is all of two miles from the Huntington Beach Barnes & Noble). No dice--and they didn't have it at all. "Not every place has it," the clerk told me as he scanned his computer screen, "they only have copies at Huntington Beach and Irvine and Aliso Viejo and Orange and Tustin and Fullerton and Long Beach." Which amounts to seven of the ten stores within 15 miles of my house, which I would call not too shabby.
I did a quick check of other Borders on my computer (Borders is civilized enough to let you check their inventory online), and of the six Borders stores I checked, five had copies.
So, within 15 miles of my house, I'd estimate there are at least 50 hardcover copies of Roger's book on the shelves. Penguin must have done a bang-up job of selling it, as neither Borders nor B&N are normally welcoming to unknown authors.
I guess I ought to mention that Alan Furst gave the book a glowing quote on the back. A fair percentage of Furst's readers are enthusiastic to the point of religiosity, so that quote alone is bound to sell more than a few copies.
So, congratulations to Roger. I'd rate this as a breakout of significant proportions!