I received a very surprsing e-mail from my friend Vickie yesterday. It began, "I recently (as of today) bought your book 'Shock and Awe' at Barnes and Noble...It was so cool. I was looking for John Irving's 'The World According to Garp'; wasn't there but as I scanned the shelf, your book popped out at me. I was giddy to say the least; it had finally come to America."
This seemed unlikely to me, but I figured perhaps someone had special-ordered it and then failed to pick it up. So I went online. Vickie lives near Fashion Island, so I checked that inventory at that store. Yep. In stock. Also in stock in Bella Terra and South Coast Plaza, the other two Barnes and Noble locations near my house.
So I drove up to Bella Terra to check. Sure enough--three copies, face out if you can believe it, stuffed between John Irving and Susan Isaacs (two writers I adore). And in the Fiction/Literature section instead of off in Mystery/Thriller (not sure if that's a good thing or not...). Here's a snap:
I was astonished. So I started trying to reason it out. Perhaps an enthusiastic friend had talked the superstores in my neighborhood into ordering the book. So when I got home, I checked inventory for three stores in Oakland. Ah, just as I suspected; no copies.
But I decided to see how far my secret friend had gone, so I did a broader search around my own zip code. Orange, Long Beach, Irvine, Spectrum, Tustin, Fullerton, Carson...in stock in every store. Then Laguna Hills--nope. But Aliso Viejo, yes. Puente Hills, no, Del Amo, yes, Chino Hills, no, West Covina, Corona, Manhattan Beach, Glendora, yes yes yes yes, but Montclair, no, Tyler Galleria, no, but Pasadena yes...
Well, you get the picture. This was clearly beyond anything that a local pal had arranged. Did B&N somehow decide to do a big trial run of the book in Southern California for some obscure reason?
So I did a wider search in the Bay Area. And although it wasn't as plentiful as in SoCal, some of the stores stocked it. Ditto Seattle, Denver, Washington DC, New York, Miami, Boston, San Diego...
Crazed with success, I ventured into the middle of the country. That was, it turned out, a big mistake. Chicago? Nope. Wichita? Get real. St Louis? Ha ha hahahaha. Kansas City? Nada. And not a single copy to be found anywhere in Texas, not even in the People's Republic of Austin.
I guess it's just a bicoastal sort of book.
I don't know how this happened, but I'm pretty damned pleased to be on the shelves in dozens of Barnes and Nobles and B. Daltons around the USA. (Now pray that the books actually sell.)
I'm also on the shelf at the world's best bookstore, Powell's City of Books in Portland, Oregon.
But when I check the inventory at Borders, alas, they tell me, "This book is available online but is not carried in our stores." Sheesh. And after Borders was so nice to me in the UK...
Much as I like visiting England, it's nice to finally see myself on the shelves of neighborhood stores 'round here.