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…