At least it is in the limited universe that is the retail potential of The Claus Effect, Karl Schroeder’s and my 11-year-old novel about Cottage Country, the Cold War, and Santa Claus.
I’ll start from the beginning…
Stopping in at The World’s Biggest Bookstore today at lunch, as sometimes I do, I noticed something peculiar in the horror section: four copies of The Claus Effect, which is not a horror novel, and for the past decade, has not been a novel you could buy in The World’s Biggest Bookstore or its affiliated stores.
This second characteristic has, to my mind, been a huge contributing factor to the book’s failure to take off in terms of sales when it appeared in 1997. Aside from the book’s obvious literary pedigree (or, possibly, in spite of), it got as fine a coming-out party as a first novel could expect. The launch, I’m told, is in the top three of best-attended launches in the Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation and Fantasy’s history. A TV crew was there, to film a segment for Space TV’s science fiction news report (and that segment aired repeatedly during the pre-Christmas rush). The bookstore then known as Bakka (now reborn as Bakka-Phoenix) did a full-bore window display in their Queen Street West location for a couple of weeks, again leading up to Christmas. Reviews were generally glowing.
There was only one fly in this otherwise generally smooth and fragrant ointment: Chapters and the World’s Biggest Bookstore – at the time, and still today now that they’ve been taken over by Indigo, the friendly giant of the Canadian book retail marketplace – elected not to order any copies.
That meant that outside of Toronto, it was very difficult if not impossible for any readers to get hold of our book. The Internet was not then what it is today, and Tesseract Books was a small press of limited means when it came to promotion. The Claus Effect was effectively stopped in its tracks.
Well, I said to myself as I stared, gobsmacked, at the four, only-slightly-yellowing copies of the trade paperback edition of Karl’s and my book, better late than never. But egads – this is no horror novel. Anyone who buys this expecting vampires and serial killers or frankly, something typical of the sort of thing I usually write, is going to be mighty steamed.
So I found me a staffer and explained to her about how this was my book, and how happy I was to see it on the shelves, but how I didn’t think it belonged in the horror section. And to my delight, I didn’t even have to show ID before she had me sign the copies then restocked them in the science fiction and fantasy section where they belonged. Then we got to chatting.
Apparently the deal is this: The World’s Biggest Bookstore, which has always been, frankly, book-ier than the other Chapters-Indigo stores, has decided to stock up with small press books that might be harder to find. And checking the computer network, we confirmed it: So far, the only place to get The Claus Effect, is WBB. It’s not in other Toronto area Chapters-Indigo stores, and presumably it’s not in any of their other stores across the country either.
And now, Yard-apes, we come to my modest proposal (or abuse of my internet privileges in the name of filthy lucre, if you want to look at it that way). If you haven’t, for some reason, ordered yourself a Claus Effect here or here yet, are thinking of doing so, and have a Chapters-Indigo store within a walk, bike ride or short drive, there are worse things that you could do than go inside, ask a staffer of they have a copy in stock, and if not, ask if they might order one.
It’s not like they don’t have it in the system. And it might give them some ideas.