Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Aftermath


In my last post, I commented about 9/11 books and concluded that what people wanted was authenticity. Well, I got even more realism than I expected. I just met with my new Phaidon sales rep yesterday -- the first rep I've known to sport pink streaks in her hair -- and she presented her publisher's top book for the fall: Aftermath, by Joel Meyerowitz. It is a huge photography book about ground zero. She brought a finished copy in, and I was greatly impressed by the rich tones of the photos and the thoroughness of the project. Meyerowitz uses a large format camera that produces magnificent landscape images, and he apparently roamed all over the ground zero site for close to a year. As I poured over the pictures, I had to wonder just who was going to pay $75 for this painful history. I was fascinated by it, but it struck me as the kind of book that people would flip through at the bookstore without purchasing. Nevertheless, I decided to bet that my reaction was wrong: I bought a large-quantity display for the store. I'd rather have too many than run out if the book really takes off.

Phaidon's other big project for the fall is a collaboration with Wallpaper* magazine on a series of city travel guides. I was salivating over this series featuring tempting photos, sparse text, and exacting standards. The low price of just $8.95 was also impressive. As my tongue was hanging out of my mouth, my rep dropped the bomb. The only way that a bookstore can bring the books in is to take a display. I figured the display would be 3 to 5 books of each title. No -- Phaidon wants bookstores to load up with 16 copies of each title. We are a strong travel store, but 16 copies of a Stockholm guide is not what we need. It angered me. I don't like being told how to buy. I don't like being told by a publisher that we order from on a regular basis that we aren't allowed to have their product unless we buy it their way. Anyway, I tried not to let the anger get the better of me since my brand new pink-haired rep was trying her hardest to make the sale. I don't think I succeeded.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

This blog is redolent of a cross polination of the works of Bertrand Russell and Malcom Lowry and resonates with the redemptive power of Pirate fiction.

Phaidony goodness said...

Your Phaidon sales rep might just have a slightly better option for you now. You may just get a pink-streaked phone call....