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09 November 2009 @ 09:50 pm
Letting Authors know the truth behind make titles....  
Just a brief post. I emailed the author of Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. Ben H. Winters. Google him and email him through his blog. If anyone can find other ways to contact other authors, please post it here. I want them to know what's really going on. They may be aware and don't care, but it's worth a shot.
(Anonymous) on November 10th, 2009 06:40 am (UTC)
good bye to your job. hello food stamps!
widehollow on November 10th, 2009 11:58 am (UTC)
Dude, I qualify for food stamps as an employee of Borders. Seriously. I can go to the office tomorrow and sign up if I wanted to.

I didn't use my name or an email that could be traced back to me.

Not Cool - (Anonymous) on November 11th, 2009 12:36 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(Anonymous) on November 10th, 2009 06:43 am (UTC)
As if the authors care! They are just happy Borders is pushing the books for them! If you were an author, wouldn't you want it being pushed on every customer coming into a national chain!? I sure the hell would!
(Anonymous) on November 10th, 2009 11:29 am (UTC)
An author might care if they're book wasn't a make book, therefore not given an equal opportunity.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) on November 10th, 2009 03:49 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(Anonymous) on November 10th, 2009 06:47 am (UTC)
I agree
Authors do not care how hard we whore their books as long as they are selling.
denardo on November 10th, 2009 06:21 pm (UTC)
Re: I agree
Speaking as an author: you are wrong.
Re: I agree - (Anonymous) on November 12th, 2009 03:43 am (UTC) (Expand)
(Anonymous) on November 10th, 2009 06:53 am (UTC)
Is this a make title now?
When Pride & Prejudice& Zombies came out, I was chastised for moving a copy to a display endcap by our female manager because it was not a "serious book" and not a "focus (make)" book. Even though it was high on Amazon's sales list.
In retrospect, maybe she was one of Marshall's serious bookstore followers.
(Anonymous) on November 10th, 2009 11:38 am (UTC)
This concisely sums up what is wrong with "make books". Ron Marshall and his people are terrible business people; I hope they understand the failure is all theirs.
(Anonymous) on November 10th, 2009 07:00 am (UTC)
Why does it matter that your manager was female? Just wondering...
(Anonymous) on November 10th, 2009 03:34 pm (UTC)
Why are you interested in dating a real bitch?
(no subject) - (Anonymous) on November 10th, 2009 07:28 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(Anonymous) on November 10th, 2009 07:43 am (UTC)
Is this now a company-wide Make book? Or is it a Key item in some zone?
(Anonymous) on November 10th, 2009 08:25 am (UTC)
It's the zone Make book for zones 1 and 5.
(no subject) - denardo on November 10th, 2009 06:26 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(Anonymous) on November 10th, 2009 12:35 pm (UTC)
wouldnt your time be better spent actualy helping customers find titles they want, or maybe recommendind items you feel are appropriate. instead of what a business person in some far off office wants to make a buck on. we customers want help finding titles we want and want to be left alone to shop, sure we want help when we need it but not honded to buy books we have no idea are around, some may like the offer but I am sure those that do are the non reading group who searches for a gift for someone. maybe thats why you are being pressured into pressuring people to buy certain books, but to most customers I think its just annoying and reminds me of SNL, its almost comical
(Anonymous) on November 10th, 2009 10:08 pm (UTC)
The reason why they care is because you eventually get fired for not whoring books out to customers.
(Deleted comment)
(Anonymous) on November 10th, 2009 03:52 pm (UTC)
If you like acting like a sleazy used car salesman, then there's nothing wrong with make books. But most of us have a little bit of self-respect and morals and therefore abhor the whole fiasco.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) on November 10th, 2009 06:10 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(Anonymous) on November 10th, 2009 03:21 pm (UTC)
How in the hell is this a make title now? That series has gone beyond jumping the shark and it's only the second book.
(Anonymous) on November 10th, 2009 03:50 pm (UTC)
I don't like any of you on this blog!
(no subject) - (Anonymous) on November 10th, 2009 07:29 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(Anonymous) on November 10th, 2009 04:52 pm (UTC)
I had met Jamie Ford in person when he came to our store to autograph the copies of "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet" we had on hand (some of which are still on the shelf six months later, along with the paperbacks) and thought he was a decent individual who might be understanding of our situation. I emailed him through his website (jamieford.com) and advised him of the threatening emails and harsh treatment of Borders employees on behalf of sales of his book and asked if he'd be willing to speak out.

Needless to say, I didn't hear back from him.
denardo on November 10th, 2009 06:23 pm (UTC)
Now if only someone would let Ford know how to write a coherent English sentence...

I see that HotCoB&S is now a Make Book equivalent at Target. What connection do Jamie Ford and Pershing have?
(no subject) - (Anonymous) on November 10th, 2009 09:30 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - (Anonymous) on November 10th, 2009 10:28 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Shareholder connection - thekiaspectra on November 11th, 2009 07:22 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Shareholder connection - denardo on November 12th, 2009 03:54 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - (Anonymous) on November 12th, 2009 09:00 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(Anonymous) on November 10th, 2009 09:52 pm (UTC)
you guys need to fight for one another individually and collectively, and the idea of contacting these authors to let them know the threats and intimidation that are being used against borders employees to sell their books seems to me to be a very good one. perhaps writing to PEN en masse would also be effective. for me, the most distressing aspect of these discussions is your extreme reluctance to engage in even the most restrained collective defensive acts.
(Anonymous) on November 10th, 2009 11:12 pm (UTC)
When Publishers Weekly online ran a piece on Make Books, I wrote a comment asking the authors concerned if they knew Borders employees are threatened with termination for not pushing their book. It's not enough to shame the author, everyone in the book business should know about this shameful practice.
(Anonymous) on November 10th, 2009 11:41 pm (UTC)
I believe there is a time and place to speak out and take a stand against a policy.
Right now is probably not the time and place, unfortunately. The time to make things better is when a company is doing well and is stable.
If you threaten to hurt business or even if you can hurt business, it will just be another nail in the coffin of the company.
The only solution I can think of, is do what you know how to do, sell the books that interest you, discuss books with the customers, offer your true opinion of a book and when it comes to "make books", offer your opinions on the ones you like, and offer no opinion on the ones you don't like or aren't interested in.
At this point, don't give into stress and don't do your job in fear. Its bullshit if they want you to come into work for 6-8 hours a day and be miserable. Be positive, have fun and if someone gives you shit about not pushing a make book you don't like, be honest and say I can't lie to customers, if you want to fire me for that, I think it would make a great local news story.

Anyway, Just a Borders employee giving my less than two cents.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) on November 11th, 2009 06:01 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - (Anonymous) on November 11th, 2009 10:45 am (UTC) (Expand)
(Anonymous) on November 10th, 2009 11:21 pm (UTC)
This is my new Make Book too but...it's on the BOGO 50% Table. So it's not really that hard to get people to buy it. It sells itself in my store. People pick that whole table apart like vultures.
bordersall on November 11th, 2009 12:49 am (UTC)
when the dm is not around
Can we just put whatever our current Make book is up at #1 on the FOS bestseller run? We were doing that when following the charts anyway on a couple a few weeks ago which weren't on any bestseller list except ours (I know we always generate our list independently vs take from NYT's, for example).
So now if one isn't on there, just move #1 to #2 and so on and place the make book at #1.
Granted, we didn't sell too many of the past ones which were up there but every bit helps. And I am talking about make titles not key items. I realize key items are usually there anyway.
Re: when the dm is not around - (Anonymous) on November 12th, 2009 04:17 am (UTC) (Expand)
(Anonymous) on November 11th, 2009 12:41 am (UTC)
Almost all authors think that no one cares about their books but themselves. Any of them who gets an email from a bookseller saying "We are forced to push your books on an unsuspecting public" will say "It's about damned time."

This doesn't include the horrible series that are put together by book packagers and for which the author is working for hire and given an outline, a page count, chapter length, etc.

(Anonymous) on November 11th, 2009 12:51 am (UTC)
Yeah, forget it. Authors are concerned with money. Getting paid. Just like you and me.
(no subject) - bordersall on November 11th, 2009 12:53 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bordersall on November 11th, 2009 12:54 am (UTC) (Expand)
(Anonymous) on November 11th, 2009 04:49 am (UTC)
The Only Purpose of this site is to Complain to each other
I have been following this site for about eight months, and every time someone suggests some "constructive" action: emailing Pub Weekly, emailing local papers, emailing authors, the Department of Labor, etc, etc-- at least ten people get on with variations of "Oh, that won't do any good! Just sit here and bitch, like the rest of us."
So my suggestion is this:
If you want to publicize all the abusive treatment, please do it! But don't expect the readers of this board to rally behind you.
(Anonymous) on November 11th, 2009 06:09 am (UTC)
Re: blah blah
There's a difference between shooting down every reasonable constructive action and simply pointing out that some actions are hopelessly naive. Does anyone seriously think that authors who are benefiting enormously from Borders pushing their books on customers are going to protest against the policy? It's simply a question of strategy, not aims.

The one obvious constructive action that employees can take is to form a union. And I agree with you that a lot of people irrationally want to shoot that idea down. If forming a union is not an option--and I know in some places it isn't currently realistic--then passive resistance and tacit refusal to engage in make-book hucksterism is the way to go right now.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) on November 11th, 2009 06:47 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - (Anonymous) on November 11th, 2009 03:23 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bordersall on November 12th, 2009 01:12 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - (Anonymous) on November 11th, 2009 04:14 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: blah blah - widehollow on November 12th, 2009 04:01 pm (UTC) (Expand)
bookish123 on November 11th, 2009 05:27 pm (UTC)
Quid pro quo
Our assumption has been that the make book scheme is a straight quid pro quo with publishers to whom we owe money. Instead of paying the overdue invoices, Borders promises the publisher that every one of its employees will flog their book. This is the assumption. Does anyone know if it's true? Or are make books a publicity stunt to make wall street investors believe we're "turning around" with "bold new ideas"? Thereby raising the stock price so Ackman can sell his stake in the company at a profit? Does anyone on the inside know the real story?
(Anonymous) on November 11th, 2009 07:00 pm (UTC)
Re: Quid pro quo
I think it's most likely primarily a publicity stunt. I don't see how it could possibly benefit the publishers all that much. We aren't selling more books overall, so publishers as a group can't be benefiting from increased sales. To me, there are two possible ways that publishers could benefit from the make book policy:

1. Increased predictability of sales. If they know that a certain book will sell a lot of copies, they can print a lot and not have to worry about having a ton left over that they have to give away at bargain prices. Instead of not knowing which of their books is going to be an unexpected best-seller, and not being able to print them fast enough or ship them quickly enough to stores while the hype is at its peak, they can now know that certain of their books are going to sell well and schedule their printing and distributing accordingly.

2. Big publishers are given preferred treatment. Most likely, the make books are all going to be from major publishers, and the extra sales of the make books may come at the expense of smaller publishers. Because the small publishers are too diffuse and impotent to protest against their books being discriminated against, and because big publishers with the power to discipline Borders will be appeased, Borders stands to benefit by giving preferential treatment to the big publishers.

I doubt, however, that either of these factors is large enough to make a tremendous impact. More likely, the make book scandal is a gambit to bamboozle investors and make it look like Marshall is galvanizing a seemingly hopeless and doomed company into profitability. Of course, it's all a sham, but so were housing prices from 2000-2007 and tech stocks in the late 90's and credit default swaps in recent years and Enron's creative accounting. Sometimes these shams can successfully fool investors for years, allowing unprofitable and unproductive companies to inflate their stock prices and prolong their existence until at last the company's inevitable dissolution becomes clear to everyone. But in the meantime, killings can be made by the cynical manipulators such as Ron Marshall, who care nothing for the company's future or its workers. Apres moi le deluge.
Re: Quid pro quo - thekiaspectra on November 11th, 2009 07:33 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Quid pro quo - bordersall on November 12th, 2009 02:28 am (UTC) (Expand)
(Anonymous) on November 11th, 2009 11:39 pm (UTC)
Make books are akin to payola from back in the day. Make books are designed so that we, the employees who have a brain, who like their job and have genuine product knowledge can be replaced with a cheaper, brain dead robot version of yourself that can recommend a book that Borders gets a deep discount on rather than a truly viable cd or book. Now you are just told what to like and what to sell instead of pushing your own tastes. I've been here since '98 and Borders was doing awesome until about '03 when they started shopping themselves to be bought out and the old way of doing things left with those who started it. When Borders has nothing but music and book lovers with tons of staffing at the helm we never had a problem. The problem always begins at the CEO/VP/etc positions at the top who never worked a retail job in their lives. Greed and stupidity brought this company down , not just the economy. Why isn't Ron M putting more of his salary towards the company if he really cared? Borders "owns" Paperchase yet almost all that retail stock is 'non returnable' so that it gets dumpstered rather than donated. None of their decisions benefits the company or environment at all only the shareholders.
(Anonymous) on November 12th, 2009 12:44 pm (UTC)
You really have no clue as to how the publishing industry works, do you?
(Anonymous) on November 13th, 2009 04:06 am (UTC)
Union! Union! Union! Free the gay whales!
dusty_yeffsky on November 13th, 2009 11:48 pm (UTC)
Dyslexic tactic
I'd do the opposite. Contact authors that you as a Borders bookseller would prefer to support. Obviously, Dan Brown, Steven King and Nora Roberts don't need our help, but I'd rather push Michael Chabon's latest, (an autobiography) or get behind Mary Karr's Lit since Cherry (follow-up to The Liar's Club) didn't have the same mammoth success as her first effort.

Pick several authors and do some research. If they blog or Tweet (many of them probably do now), give 'em a shout, tell 'em what's going on, how corporate picks the books they want us to sell, etc.

I'd contact Mike Daisey, who wrote what it was like to work at a call center during Amazon.com's heyday. Check out 21 Dog Years if you can.

widehollow on November 14th, 2009 02:04 am (UTC)
Re: Dyslexic tactic
Excellent idea. I just emailed the author of Nickel and Dimed.

BTW, I heard back from Ben H. Winters, the author of Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. He started out by saying that he was not sure what he could do for me, but he would like to have a phone conversation. He found the make title thing interesting.

What should I ask him? Any suggestions? Be nice.
Re: Dyslexic tactic - (Anonymous) on November 24th, 2009 02:34 pm (UTC) (Expand)