When a Librarian Goes Wrong? Nancy Pearl’s Amazon Deal

The Seattle Times today had a big piece about Seattle’s favorite librarian superstar Nancy Pearl and her new deal to publish a few out of print books every year for just the Kindle. I’ve listened to Pearl off and on for years on KUOW which is my local public radio station. She’s on all the time and used to be on once a week back in the day. While I respect her love of books, her tastes are a little to broad for me so the shows often have people calling in about fantasy series which I just can’t abide. That aside, she’s been hugely popular but now with the Amazon deal the local NW bookstores are quite unhappy. I can see why, too, because it looks as if she is throwing them under the bus with this deal. Perhaps if she had done something with Google books, which allows independent companies away of selling Google titles the back lash might not have been so large. For me, this is a small endeavor on her part so I’m not to up in arms about it, but she should be more cogniscent of how platform choices can control the marketplace and that vertical integration, which is Amazon’s model, can be anti competitive.

The reaction from the brick-and-mortar bookshops — which have struggled first against competition from the big-box chains, and then the price-cutting Amazon — was immediate.

By Friday, some 50 store managers and owners had emailed Thom Chambliss, executive director of the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association in Eugene, Ore.

That’s a sizable number, considering the group has 160 to 165 total members.

“Consternation,” is how Chambliss describes the content of the emails.

Before taking a position on Pearl’s alliance with Amazon, the group says it wants to talk to Pearl — whom in 2011 it gave its “Lifetime Achievement Award” for the “Book Lust” series containing her book recommendations.

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2 thoughts on “When a Librarian Goes Wrong? Nancy Pearl’s Amazon Deal

  1. I think one difference in this case is that Amazon is not publishing Nancy’s books. They are acquiring rights to books she has suggested an republishing those. This is a serious commitment by a publisher. Nancy already has a publisher (Sasquatch) for the books she writes on her own and if they were able to do the project I bet she would have gone with them. Problem is they probably were not able to commit the amount of resources this project required.

  2. Good point. That’s why I was kind of on the fence about how bad this really was. I’m curious to see how the project turns out.

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