Robert J. Sawyer

Hugo and Nebula Award-Winning Science Fiction Writer

Archive for the 'Bookselling' Category

Big-five publishers and lower ebook sales

Monday, November 9th, 2015

Publishers Weekly reported today:Lower e-book sales were a big factor in the weak financial performance at HarperCollins and limiting gains at Simon & Schuster in the quarter ended Sept. 30, 2015.My own take on this is that the big-five publishers have convinced themselves so thoroughly that their product is worth a premium ebook price that […]

Did genre fiction really win the war?

Sunday, March 15th, 2015

Apropos of the discussion that’s been going on here and on my Facebook wall for the last several days about genre fiction vs. literary snobbery, this is an interesting piece from Esquire. But before we get too smug and claim we — the genre-fiction community — have won the war, note that not a single […]

Will self-published authors be Amazon’s next hardball target?

Friday, May 23rd, 2014 is playing hardball with Hachette, one of the big-5 traditional publishers; it’s previously done such things with Macmillan (the big-5 publisher of which science-fiction giant Tor is part). Note the template, folks: when Amazon feels it’s got a de facto monopoly, it goes after its suppliers, big and small (what Bill Gates, at Microsoft, […]

30 years ago: working at Bakka

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

Pictured: Dune author Frank Herbert and Bakka owner John Rose, outside of Bakka’s old 282 Queen Street West location in Toronto, where Robert J. Sawyer worked in 1982; Bakka was named for “the weeper who mourns for all mankind” from Dune. Photo by Tom Robe from 1981. Just about exactly thirty years ago, I started […]

Not even close, guys

Saturday, February 20th, 2010

Often, Amazon’s recommendations are reasonably useful, but this one isn’t even close. Come on, guys! If the recommendation feature decays into nothing but noise, it’s self-defeating. I’m sure someone said, “Hey, if we make the recommendations more general, we’ll sell more books.” Nope; if I get a few more like this, I’ll just turn on […]

It only took a decade, but …

Friday, November 27th, 2009

Back in June 1998, I met with the then-manager of author relations for at Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle. It was an opportunity to tell her what was wrong with’s online book-review system (in my humble opinion), which had been thrust into the marketplace without any consultation with writers’ groups. I outlined numerous difficulties […]

FlashForward bookstore display stands

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

Woohoo! In cooperation with ABC, Tor Books in the United States has produced terrific floor-display stands (sometimes called “dumps”) for the new mass-market edition of my novel FlashForward, which is the basis of the TV series premiering two weeks from today. Here are a couple of shots of the stand in a Barnes and Noble […]

The Banff Book & Art Den closes

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

I’ve often taught science-fiction writing in week-long courses at the Banff Centre in the ski-resort town of Banff, Alberta. I’m sure my students remember The Banff Book & Art Den — the one bookstore in Banff — as fondly as I do. Quill & Quire is reporting that the store closed its doors for good […]

Calgary McNally Robinson closing

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

The great downtown Calgary bookstore McNally Robinson, on the open-air mall Stephen Avenue Walk, is closing on August 1, 2008. Calgary’s economy is booming — wages are high, rents are higher — and a small-margins business like bookselling can’t make a go of it in such a prime downtown location. I’m really sad about this. […]