Special Edition Book Pre-Order Process Wishlist

After a few slightly stressful book buying situations recently I thought I’d suggest what I’d most like to see here. I’m aiming to talk generally and not name names although I’m sure those in the know will know what inspired this post.

Anything that is limited edition is likely to leave some people empty handed – be that tickets to events, concerts, collectibles, books etc. FOMO is real.

My main issue around all this links to capitalism though and that there always seem to be people who manage to get hold of those restricted items seemingly with the intention to sell on at a profit. I’ve noticed that there are steps being taken to solve this, limiting sales to one item per customer. Trying to prevent resales for concerts etc but still we have issues and more could be done. (Just to note people that initially buy for themselves and sell on at a later date for various reasons this doesn’t apply).

It’s tricky because I feel hypocritical writing this because I’d love to be able to sit back and go I don’t care I’ll just go on in half an hour to see if there are any left. This is because I am invested in some things – experiences, collectibles, special edition books – especially when they have added prettiness. I’m slightly less bothered about exclusive numbered editions but slap a sprayed edge on something and ooooh.

Here’s what I would love to see happen although I realise some of this is very unlikely to. It’s a wishlist that would require action from different parties.

Publishers to – in advance – list all the pre-order special editions of an upcoming book before they go on sale so that consumers can be fully informed and can choose the edition(s) they most want to purchase (and in which priority). e.g. tell us about all the sprayed edges, bonus chapters, signed, numbered, exclusive covers etc.

The particular books that have inspired by this post have a number of editions that have all been released with some yet to be determined. I know not many of us can afford to get all editions of every book so this leads to either frequent cancelling of orders, or the later high resale prices because people know there was demand so keep duplicates specifically to sell.

Pie in the sky – have one super duper awesome version and allow pre-orders and create this issue to demand (plus extras for people that come to the party later). Wouldn’t that be lovely. But like I said capitalism doesn’t work that way.

Proper notice (Ideally at least a week) on when special editions are going to be available (for this recent book it was less than 24 hours if you count an author announcement and just over an hour if you count the vendor official newsletter e-mail).

An exact time for the release. People do need to plan lives around these things – as much as we love books / other stuff like work, family etc get in the way. Rude! 😉

Clarity over the ordering process. Can you order just by the website or by phone, e-mail etc too. Transparency about how this is managed. Certain amount limited to each ordering process?! Making sure infrastructure is in place to manage this for popular titles because the last thing you want is to turn round and have to cancel orders. That does not a happy customer make.

Vendors having adequate infrastructure to support sales of very popular titles. This would include things like:

Having websites that can be prescheduled to release a listing without need for manual input.

Buying in extra server capacity for these types of releases with queuing systems (e.g. like sites like Cursed Child or Popcultcha have).

If errors go on for longer than an hour postponement to the process is made (again to be re-set at specific announced time) to allow issues to be resolved. I’m sure all our refreshing didn’t help the website crash but equally whilst there was still hope of things being fixed and fear that the books would sell out very quickly if they were we just weren’t going to step back to allow it to be resolved.

Alternatively Vendors could even consider a raffle type process where people could submit pre-order requests over a 24 hour period via different processes (phone, e-mail etc) that they get randomly picked? Those who are unsuccessful are offered alternatives and allowed to cancel if that isn’t suitable.

On numbered issues in particular. That when a numbered issue of the first in a series is purchased that buyers get first and exclusive option of that same numbered edition of sequels in the series.

That we all try to remember that the customer service people we are dealing with, the authors who have no control over this process, and the fellow fans, that are just as excited as us, are all human and that we treat each other with respect. I hope that companies value when their employees have had a tough day and debrief or better yet send them off to happy hour.

Life isn’t fair. There will always be people that will be unsuccessful despite all these steps but there are fairer ways to implement things.

Just my thoughts. My way to process.

What do you think. All pie in the sky? Anything practical in there? Any other ideas?

Happy Special Edition Book Buying People. Tomorrow may the odds be ever in your favour.

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New Suns – Speculative Fiction by POC collection – Blog Tour Book Review

Synopsis

“There’s nothing new under the sun, but there are new Suns,” proclaimed Octavia E. Butler.

New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Colour showcases emerging and seasoned writers of many races telling stories filled with shocking delights, powerful visions of the familiar made strange. Between this book’s covers burn tales of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and their indefinable overlapping. These are authors aware of our many possible pasts and futures, authors freed of stereotypes and clichés, ready to dazzle you with their daring genius.

Unexpected brilliance shines forth from every page.

What I Thought

As with any short story collection there will be stories that you love, many that you like and a couple that just don’t quite hit the spot (at the time of initial reading at least). When the former two outweigh the latter you are onto a winner and that was the case here.

Speculative fiction is always as much about the here and now as it is about visions of the future. A number of the stories provide such good political commentary that Trump will want their authors federally investigated! Three Variations on a Theme of Imperial Attire (E. Lily Yu) – a take on the Emperors New Clothes conjured up scary naked visions I didn’t really want but provided brilliant political satire.

The stories were an eclectic mix which is what you hope to get with mixed representation. Here we also had mixed presentation. From an euthanasia tourist holiday infomercial script to fairytales, ghost stories, gang warfare – there is something to suit everyone. I guess I was expecting a little more straight science fiction but enjoyed the variety of fantasy and slightly more contemporary feeling pieces. Even the couple of stories that didn’t quite hit the spot for me were lyrically written and just because the meaning was not immediately apparent to me doesn’t mean they won’t jump out at someone else. As readers we bring so much to what we read and current preoccupations jump out more readily.

My two favourite stories were:

The Freedom of the Shifting Sea (Jaymee Goh). With echoes The Shape of Water this is a f/f love story with feminist themes.

The Virtue of Unfaithful Translations (Minsoo Kang) is written as an historical paper on a peace treaty orchestrated by two translators who don’t quite translate what is being said by the violent rulers going head to head. I particularly liked the add on commentary about not looking enough at the female perspective and I’d actually really want to read the translators story in real time.

Do you like reading short stories about the macabre and unusual? Then pick up New Suns and step into the unknown.

Check out the rest of the blog tour and see which stories other people highlighted.

I was gifted my copy of New Suns for the purposes of providing an honest review. All opinions are, as ever, my own

Guardians of the Wild Unicorns by Lindsay Littleson – Book Review

I recently hosted a guest post from author Lindsay Littleson, which you can read here. I’ve now read Guardians of the Wild Unicorns and am back with my review.

Synopsis

Lewis is cold, wet and miserable on his school residential trip in the Highlands of Scotland. The last thing he expects to see is a mythical creature galloping across the bleak moorland. Unicorns aren’t real… are they?

Lewis and his best friend Rhona find themselves caught up in a dangerous adventure to save the world’s last herd of wild unicorns. Fighting against dark forces, battling the wild landscape, and harnessing ancient magic, can they rescue the legendary creatures in time?

Author

Lindsay Littleson is a primary school teacher in Renfrewshire, Scotland. After taking up writing for children in early 2014, she won the Kelpies Prize for new Scottish writing for children with her first children’s novel, The Mixed-Up Summer of Lily McLean.

What I Thought

I loved this book. Particularly the realistic friendship between Lewis and Rhona.

It starts with poor Lewis dangling from a cliff on a school adventure trip. Except he’d much rather be inside with a good book – I’m with him there! His best friend Rhona is much more adventurous and is trying to bolster his confidence, leading to a line that gave me an image that made me snort laugh. And when you are dangling an inch away from death your life flashes before your eyes or unicorns do!?

Chapters are told alternately from Lewis’ and Rhona’s points of view and cleverly enable the reader to see their inner insecurities. But we also see how they both keep these from, and share them with the other, over the course of them working together and building even more trust in each other.

The conservation storyline is really important and I think that using mythological creatures highlights their rarity and increases the suspense. The children have to outwit some very misguided and/or nasty characters to prevent the unicorn’s re-extinction. This would make an excellent book for class discussion on conservation as well as being a gripping and human story. It also deals with themes such as anxiety and young carers and will speak to children that may not fully see themselves in the many overly brave and outgoing books characters there are.

The use of the Scottish setting and smattering of dialect was a great touch and the publisher DiscoverKelpies is focused on publishing books with a Scottish twist. It is amazing how reading about books set near you or to places you’ve been can add to the magic.

I will leave you with the fact that a group of unicorns is called a blessing. As was reading this book.

Thank you to Kirsten at Floris Books/Discover Kelpies who #gifted me the copy of Guardians of the Wild Unicorns used for this honest review and again to Lindsay for the earlier Guest Post.

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