It makes me sad to hear that a lot of you are searching for Night School and are unable to find it at your local retailer. I thought I'd do a post to explain why this might be the case.
The book industry right now is in serious transition. Big stores like Borders and Barnes and Noble took over the marketplace some years ago - putting a lot of the indy stores out of business. I mean, who doesn't want to go to a big store with great coffee and a billion books? Problem is, evidently not enough people to keep all those stores open. Both big chains have struggled and now Borders is likely filing bankrupcy and closing 150 stores. (I'm praying for a last minute intervention, but it's not looking great.)
In order to deal with the trouble they're in, these stores have changed up their inventory. For example, they'll add a "Build a Bear" section or maybe sell CDs or DVDs. That limits the number of books they can stock. They also choose to stock books that are BIG bestsellers. So you'll see a whole wall of, let's say, Vampire Academy, but they won't stock some of the smaller titles, like Blood Coven, because they're not as much of a "sure thing."
I mean, think about it. If you had a business that was struggling, wouldn't you want to stock your shelves with what you KNOW people want, not take a chance on what they MIGHT want, if they saw it?
So they pack the stores with bestsellers and books that publishers pay to have promoted. (In other words, those front tables and new release shelves? Those are paid placement. So if an author's publisher won't or can't pay for placement, you get stuck on the shelves, spine out, if you're stocked at all.) And that leaves what they call "midlist series" like Blood Coven off the order list. They just don't know if enough people will want to read it - and in this economic climate, they can't take any chances.
The problem is - if you never expose readers to new books, they'll never know they exists, and then yes, they won't buy them. So it's a self-fulfilling prophesy.
I don't blame bookstores for trying to stay in business. I WANT them to stay in business - as a reader as well as a writer, I love bookstores. I love wandering through them, I love smelling the books. I love that coffee shop! But it's sad to hear when readers come and say they can't find my book in their favorite store.
Another specific problem with Borders right now - some publishers are afraid to send them books, in case they go out of business and can't pay for them. So even if a store like Borders - who has been awesome about supporting the Blood Coven series - wants to stock the books, they might not get to - unless they sort out their current financial situation. (Which I sooo hope they do!)
SO...what's a reader to do? I think we need to start changing the way we buy books. The bookstores, remember, are reacting to what they see on the cash register reciepts-nothing more. But there are ways to show them what books we want to read, beyond the bestsellers.
Here are some options:
1) Go to the store (or call) and order the book. They will get in ANY book in the world if you order it. It usually only takes a few days and you don't have to pay until it arrives--great for readers without credit cards. I believe you can also go online and order it to be shipped to a store.
2) Go to the store's website and order the book online. Takes a credit card or gift card, but they'll mail it right to your front door within a couple days.
Why this is good to do: It shows bookstores what books people want to read. If B&N got a flurry of orders for Night School, you'd better believe they'd start stocking it on their shelves. I know it's more of a pain and requires two trips instead of one, but if you believe in a series and want it to continue - you must work to support it.
Buy Independent. You can find an indy bookstore and tell the bookseller you love the Blood Coven series and think he or she should stock it. Indy bookstores love to hear from their customers - they are not a big corporation and have more control over stocking books. So if they know you love it - they'll probably get at least a couple copies in. (Make sure you come back and buy one--to support their interest.)
Buy Online: There are tons of online bookstores (Amazon, etc.) that will sell you any book in the world. If you have a credit card, this is the easiest way to do things. It doesn't help on getting big chains to carry the book, necessarily, but it does help with Bookscan numbers, which is a way publishers keep track of sales. If everyone bought from Amazon, they could go to B&N and say "Look how popular this book is! Are you sure you don't want to stock it?"
Buy e-book: While I beg you not to pirate a free copy of the book, if you want to buy an e-copy, there are tons of ways to do it now. You can either read it on your e-reader or just download it to the computer and read it that way. Or even to your smart phone. This is probably the wave of the future of books, though I know not everyone likes it right now.
Email me: I don't know if every author would do this, but I will always accept direct orders from readers. Just send the money over PayPal and I can ship you out a book. (Autographed, of course!)
Ask your librarian: They have a budget to buy a certain amount of books each year. Let them know what you want to read! They're usually very open to suggestions and can help you get the book.
WHAT NOT TO DO - never just walk out of a store and accept the fact they don't have a book you want - thinking you'll just try somewhere else. Instead, march right up to the front desk and tell them what you want! How will the bookstores ever know we don't want a store just full of Twilight and James Patterson if we never tell them? Remember, they're in customer service, they want you to be happy! But sometimes you have to let them know what will make you happy! (Blood Coven books on the shelves - whoo hoo!)
And lastly - once you acquire and read the book - tell people about it! With diminishing shelf space, there is less and less chance of a reader accidentally picking up a Blood Coven book to read. I rely so much on people reading the books and then telling their friends. Or blogging about the books or talking about them on Facebook. That is the BEST BEST BEST way to overcome the bookstore distribution hurdle.
So there you have it. A billion ways to get Night School (or any other smaller series) in your hot little hands. Now you have no excuse! :)
But seriously - I want to close by thanking you all. You guys are so dedicated to the series - and have made writing it a tremendously awesome experience for me. I just feel fortunate to have the ability to share my stories with you -- not matter how you end up acquiring them!
PS Lastly - for those who are international, I'd suggest a great website called Book Depository. They will ship FREE (yes free!) to anywhere in the world! You cannot beat that deal!