I love bookshops.
Most readers do.
But authors, particularly mystery authors, have a special place in their hearts for independent mystery bookshops. The folks who work in those places have steered me to some of the best reads in my life, and helped me, time and again, to win converts to my work.
Last year, when Jim Huang was forced to close his beloved bookshop, The Mystery Company, in Carmel, IN, it put me in a bad mood that lasted a week. I’m not kidding. A week.
The people of the Indianapolis area had a treasure in Jim’s shop. It was more than a store. It was a service to the community, run by a guy who loves books. He didn’t deserve to fail.
Other great shops, like Murder by the Book, in Houston, The Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, AZ, The Mystery Bookstore in Los Angeles, Kingdom Books in Waterford, VT and M is for Murder in San Mateo, CA, have been places where I’ve been received with warmth and enthusiasm, where I’ve had the opportunity to meet my fans, and where I’ve experienced some of the major milestones of my career. I love them all!
I never leave an independent bookshop without buying a book.
It’s the least I can do in the way of payback to people who’ve given me so much.
When I travel, I invariably return to Brazil with bags heavy with books.
I’d order books, by mail, from my friends at U.S. independent bookshops if I could.
But I can’t, because, more often than not, books so ordered don’t arrive, being subject to theft on the way.
Moreover, I’m a voracious reader.
And I always consume more books than I can carry.
Okay, enough of a preamble. I admit it. I have a confession to make.
I’ve gone over to the dark side – and bought myself an e-reader.
It’s a Kindle.
And, I have to tell you, the printed word aside, it is an amazing device.
Particularly for an author who travels a lot, gets asked by other authors to contribute blurbs and reviews, and has a penchant, in addition to mysteries and thrillers, for reading more esoteric stuff in the English language. (And which, until Google Books launched their immense collection of offerings, was pretty hard to find in Brazil.)
And now there’s also Calibre.
You can download it here.
Don’t try to watch the demo video on the website. It’s too slow. But there are other demos on YouTube that will clearly explain to you how Calibre works and what it can do.
One of Calibre’s niftiest features is that it converts virtually any e-publishing format into any other - and automatically sends it to your Kindle.
So if the material is not “protected”, you can take (for example) an e-pub file and turn it into a Kindle file at the push of a button.
I never resisted mobile (cell) phones, computers or GPS receivers.
So why did I, for so long, resist buying an e-reader?
I think it was a deep-seated fear of what the devices might do to my first love – printed books.
But I have now come to believe that it need not be “either/or”.
And I am convinced that printed books are going to be able to live in peace and harmony with my Kindle.
So if you, too, Dear Reader, have been one of the holdouts, and you travel a lot, may I suggest that it’s time for you to re-evaluate?
And, if you, like me, are an author, guess what?
You actually need it.
People send you books to blurb, and send you books with a request to review, right?
And isn’t it true that more and more of those books are arriving in electronic form?
I have four books in my home, at this moment, that I’ve been asked to critique.
And only one of them is printed on paper.
Something else: you’ve got to be able to check the quality of your own e-books.
If you’re not putting those books up on Kindle outside your home country, you’re missing something.
Amazon offers the opportunity to pick and choose your countries. Each book, in each country, gets its own, exclusive URL. The page looks the same as all the others, but the internet address is different.
As of the day-before-yesterday, my second book, Buried Strangers, joined Blood of the Wicked, on Kindle in the UK, and in Brazil, and in Australia, and in New Zealand and throughout Western Europe, and in about a hundred other places where the books weren’t available before. And at prices that are cheaper than they are in the United States.
But my North American publisher, Soho Crime, did me one better.
To celebrate the launch of the fourth book in the series, Every Bitter Thing, they put the Kindle version of the first one, Blood of the Wicked up for free.
If you live in the United States, you can get it simply by going here:
But you can’t get it elsewhere. If you’re our reader in Vanuatu, for example, (yeah, we really do have a reader in Vanuatu) you’re not allowed to download it.
And I don’t think that’s fair.
So, for the next month or so, here’s what I’m going to do:
If you live outside of the U.S. or Canada, and you’d like a free e-book of Blood of the Wicked, you need only drop me a line through my web site.
And I will respond by sending you the book by email. Please specify if you’d like me to attach a Kindle or an Epub version. And remember that you can convert to other formats by using Calibre.
And remember, if you don’t yet own an e-reader, you can read it on your computer screen by downloading one of the free apps from Amazon. It’s not the best way, but, heck, it’s free.
Now about The Gray Lady.
Most folks in America know that’s the affectionate nickname given to The New York Times.
Respected by most, hated by some, the Times is, more than any other, America’s newspaper of record.
And, for us who read and write books, a publication of supreme importance, because it is one of the few major dailies in America that continues to publish book reviews and support the people who write them.
The New York Times Sunday Book Review Section appears in two versions, one with a cover price sold via subscription, and in bookstores and newsstands; the other with no cover price, which is included as an insert in each Sunday’s edition of the Times. The versions are otherwise identical. And there are, each week, well over a million copies printed.
The NYTBR receives between 750 to 1000 submissions each week.
A mere 20 to 30 are chosen for review.
Of those, only four or five are mysteries.
Yesterday, December 12th, 2010, my latest book, Every Bitter Thing, was so honored.
You can read the complete review here:
And, if you’d like to hear a live interview with the author, you can drop in to C.J. West’s internet radio show this coming Wednesday:
If you take the time to register with Blog Talk Radio ahead of time, you can use the chat feature to chime in with questions. You can even, if you like, call in.
This is a launch week. I hope you’ll all pardon me for being in promotional mode.
It only happens once a year.
Next week, I promise, it's back to business as usual.
Leighton - Monday