Thursday, March 30, 2006

Where's My Book?

Mom's Cancer is showing up in more places than I expected. Oh, I knew it'd be in bookstores, and indeed friends and readers have written to tell me they've seen it in Georgia, Texas, Minnesota, New York, and points elsewhere.

What I mean is that it seems to be showing up in a variety of locations within bookstores. I personally have found it on the "Graphic Novel" and "Biography" shelves. Others have seen it in "Health," "Disease," or "Memoir." In rare instances I appreciate enormously, a couple of independent bookstores have simply stacked it on the front counter.

On display just inside the front door of a bookstore in Santa
Monica, Calif. You'll have to take my word that Nurse Sis
is standing right beside the table but is cropped out because
she made me promise not to show the picture to anyone.

Where a bookstore decides to put your book can be very important. Good placement has made many a bestseller, while poor or thoughtless placement has buried many a deserving work. This can be a real problem for graphic novels, which more often than not end up on the same shelf as "Dilbert." There's nothing wrong with "Dilbert"; we just don't have that much in common.

Rob Wynne found Mom's Cancer in good company
at a Borders near Atlanta, Georgia and took this
photo with his camera-phone, which made my day.

That's frustrating. Comics are a medium, not a genre. Graphic novels can be biographies, mysteries, histories, romances, horror stories, science fiction stories, coming-of-age stories, or anything else prose books can be, but somehow--just because they all have drawings in them--they often end up on the same shelf.

I understand why that happens and, frankly, if you're a graphic novel fan and know what you're looking for, it makes them easy to locate. The readers who lose out are history buffs who'll never find Eric Shanower's Age of Bronze, political or travel buffs who'll never find Guy Delisle's Pyongyang, or whoever my potential readers are who'll never find Mom's Cancer.

Which is why I'm happily surprised to see so much variety in my book's placement. It would be interesting to track which spots yield the best sales, but I don't suppose there's any way to do that. Pity; it sounds like a fun experiment.

Lynda found it at a Barnes & Noble shelved
with other cancer-themed books. She bought
the second one from the left. (Thank you!)


Lynda (Laurianne's Sister) said...

I had asked and originally they thought it was in the front of the store. The guy said it was a "funny shaped book". I said, "Funny shaped!" and he explained it was more oblong. I was actually surprised it was so small.

I only heard the term graphic novel a few days ago. It still makes me think of something you would wear a scarf and dark sunglasses to buy. (Well, come to think of it, there probably graphic novels like that too!)

Oh, and I finished reading Mom's Cancer. It was terrific!

Brian Fies said...

I like the "funny shaped" description. I'll pass that on to my editor, who chose that shape. Anything to help it stand out.

The book is kind of small. That's deliberate: we wanted it to feel good in your hands and fit into a purse. It's supposed to be a comfortable, intimate reading experience. The art is actually printed at almost exactly the same size it was on the Internet, so nothing was lost there.

I'm not that fond of the term "graphic novel" but I think we're stuck with it for now. I read that "Late Late Show" host Craig Ferguson recently quipped: "Saying 'graphic novel' instead of 'comic book' is like saying 'lactose intolerant' instead of 'milk makes me fart.'"

Lynda said...

lol. I love that quote!

I thought the book was very easy to hold. I did a "book report" on Laurianne's Hope about it. I finished reading it last night.

I think it could help anyone dealing with any type of cancer. It is a wonderful book.

Louie said...

Just posting to make sure you saw this nice review at (the entertainment website published by The Onion).

BrianFies said...

Louie, I didn't know about that. Thanks very much, I'll put it in my next post.

Sarah said...

I'm going comment-crazy today.

Just thought I'd tell you I saw the book at Stacy's Books on Market in downtown SF when I was there the other day. I was so excited! It was with the cancer books.

Just an FYI...