Thursday, December 6, 2007

Out of Stock...and Awe

I find it necessary to interject a brief note into the middle of this ongoing discourse on the problems and joys of expositional prose. The newish Part III is below. Part IV is somewhere above this…or will be.

My MNW evil twin (and who is that, you ask?) pointed out to me that S&A is now “Out of Stock” according to the PanMacmillan website. Which I guess has an optimistic ring to it.

But I received an e-mail the other day from Andrea, a friend who said she knew Shock and Awe’s theme was controversial enough that US publishers said thanks but no thanks…but that she didn’t realize it was going to be made unavailable in the US, and that even Amazon wouldn’t sell it.

Huh? I said (or something equally witty. Hey, I was talking to an e-mail—how witty do you have to be?). Because I know a number of people who’d ordered it from Amazon US. Admittedly, their delivery dates had been pushed off from October to November to December to January, but it was still available for order…Or so I thought.

(I apologize for the preceding overdramatic paragraph break. That was really tacky. Us thriller writers can’t help ourselves.)

I hopped on to Amazon US and looked up the book. Sure enough—you can still buy used copies of Shock and Awe from third parties, but Amazon US no longer allows you to order it new from them.

So, I asked Amazon US about this. Which isn’t easy to do (and can only be done by e-mail) by the way: Amazon US has all of the transparency, accountability, and ease of access of truly scary entities, like the KGB, or the NSA, or British Telecom.

The first answer I was given is that they aren’t quite sure what the problem is, but the book should be listed as available for purchase from Amazon, because copies are on order…

Well, whether or not it “should be listed as available for purchase from Amazon,” it isn’t. So I asked again, and this time that part of the question was ignored. Though she did tell me that, “We have received a few of these items from distributors, but have not yet received them from the publisher.”

Seeing as Amazon Canada has already sold a big stack of copies (they only have one left, but they claim they will have more soon), and even Amazon Japan has the book on hand (with free shipping on orders of over 1,500 yen!), I find this very strange indeed. Help me out with this. I see only three possibilities:

1) Amazon US actually had no intention of procuring the book until they had some critical mass of orders, and by the time they asked for it, Macmillan was out of stock; or,

2) Amazon US fully planned on getting the book, but now that the dollar has collapsed they plan on stalling on any book published in the UK, hoping people will cancel orders based on old exchange rates; or,

3) Andrea is right, and someone in a position of authority has decided this book isn’t fit reading for the tender eyes of my fellow citizens.

Meanwhile, though, you ought to be wary about ordering Shock and Awe from Amazon US, as it may never arrive. As to Andrea's theory, that's just silly.

I could go on, but I’m going to have to cut this short, because there’s a funny noise in the bushes beneath my office window…


Anonymous said...

I ordered 4 new copies of S&A from AmazonUK on Nov. 24 and received them on Nov.28. Do you suppose our living practically on the runway for DHL Shipping to Southern California sped up the process? Also, not being at all adept at conversions, I have no idea what I charged to my VISA card. Anyway, they are beautiful and they are here.
The Lady in the Bug Slippers

Faye L. said...

How very bizarre. Do let us know if/when you find out exactly what's going on, won't you?


Faye L. said...

How very bizarre. Do let us know if/when you find out exactly what's going on, won't you?


David Isaak said...

Hey, Bug Slippers (and I know who you are)

Sure, Amazon UK has their act together. Well, usually. Although they left me hanging for months on end for a few books.

It's the Yanqui Gringo Imperialist Amazon that seems to have some trouble wiht my book.

But I'm not paranoid. Not me.

David Isaak said...

Hi, Faye--

If I ever figure it out, I will shout it from the rooftops. But I figure they just don't like the cut o' my jib.

Tim Stretton said...

Censored by Amazon! What a great marketing ploy! Can you get on the Vatican's Index of Forbidden Books too? I'm sure they could find a reason to object to your depiction of Lorrie...

Your success is now assured.

Faye L. said...

Can you get on the Vatican's Index of Forbidden Books too?
Tim, that's a bloody genius idea. I might try it myself; I think CTM would be a shoe-in.

David Isaak said...

Tim, Faye, I think you guys are onto something here. And, yes, CTM is a clear and present danger and should be banned. Tim, is it too late to add more offensive bits to your book?

Although I'm somewhat worried that Mother Church has lost some of its zeal. The US Coonference of Catholic Bishops has just announced that the movie version of "The Golden Compass" is okay viewing for the Faithful. That sort of raises the bar for getting banned....

Tim Stretton said...

I understand that the movie of "The Golden Compass" omits much of the religious matter--so the Church has twisted some arms behind the scene. When they start endorsing the book is the time to say they've gone soft.

I'm hopeful that "The Dog of the North" can find its way onto the Index. The religious strand is clearly anti-clerical, so fingers crossed.

I'm sure "Cover the Mirrors" is there already...

Faye L. said...

I can't make up my mind whether I want to see the adaptation of Northern Lights (what was wrong with the original title, I'd like to know?) for that very reason. I'm not sure I can be trusted to maintain my usual quiet decorum instead of standing up in front of the screen and delivering a lecture on the yellow-belliedness of it all.

On the bright side, the film's website has a rather spiffy quiz that informed me that my daemon is a tiger, so maybe I can set that on the film-makers.

David Isaak said...

I'm not sure what was wriong with "Northern Lights," but the book was published in the US as "The Golden Compass," so blame New York for that part--Hollywood just followed suit.

In fact, my friend Sharon in London was so jazzed when she first read the trilogy she mailed me copies. And then I saw copies of "The Golden Compass" in bookstores. For a while I thought it must be a tetrology.

Imagine what's going to happen if Hollywood gets hold of "Cover the Mirrors." (Right off hand, Molly and her dear Mum will be reconciled at the end, and everyone will have learned An Important Lesson...) Sigh.

Well, go get 'em, Tiger!

Heather said...

I am not sure if you have seen the comment on the UK Amazon site -- 5 stars!

"David Isaak's first novel is so poised that it's hard to believe it's his debut. A thriller of breathtaking assurance, Shock and Awe handles the standard repertoire of bullets and bombs with sure-footed ease, but adds a layer of moral ambiguity absent from most action tales. It's a novel where the good guys really aren't that good, and the bad guys are not cardboard cut-out villains. Isaak expertly manipulates the reader's sympathy to create a story which is at once entertaining and unsettling. Highly recommended!"

Sam Taylor said...

Okay... So I admit it. I've not read S&A yet (though it's on my list to-buy). What's so controversial in it that Amazon would turn it down?

David Isaak said...

Hi, Sam--

Oh, it isn't, really--though a number of US publishers turned it down because of the subject matter. Without giving away too much, it's about a group of American crazies who decide to nuke Mecca. Some folks objected to the basic premise; others objected to the idea of Americans being terrorist. And the book is a little cynical about how the US government works these days.

But I'm sure Amazon is simply hoping that everyone will cancel their preorders, which were all based on more favorable exchange rates. Obviously if they really wanted to supress the book, they wouldn't be selling used copies either...but it makes for a funnier story.

If you're planning on buying a copy and you're in North America, Amazon Canada has the best prices, and actually deliver the books.