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September 3, 2002

Bookstore Anomalies

Reader Help Requested

Toni Weisskopf, Editor-in-Chief at Baen Books, has asked if I could enlist the help of the readership cadre out there in tracking down anomalies of the book distribution system.

In particular, I've heard from readers who were told that a title was out of print when they knew it wasn't. A case in point was a friend in Tulsa, OK, who inquired in a local store about The Proteus Operation and was still remonstrating with a clerk who insisted it was unavailable, when her daughter came back from the shelf carrying it in her hand. It turned out that the database the branch was using showed the original Bantam editions in 1985, 86, & 91, but not the Baen reissue in 1996. With another distributor, titles were listed under two different versions of my name, and the two universes didn't connect. Amazon.com lists three versions of it.

In the future, when anyone runs into this kind of thing, I'd appreciate it if they would use the feedback link on the web site to let me know the details: Title, Store, Location, Date, and nature of the problem. I know that Mirror Maze, Infinity Gambit, and Immortality Option are currently out of print. (We hope to rectify the latter situation shortly.) The Bantam novella Out of Time is OOP as a separate item but still included in Rockets, Redheads, & Revolution. Just about everything else, as far as I know, ought to be obtainable.

In times gone by, booksellers used to contact the distributor or publisher directly, and you'd hear back in about a week whether they could get the book, or that it was unobtainable. Nowadays, it seems, all to often they don't get past looking at wrong information on a computer screen. But it's instant wrong information -- so we call it progress.

 
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