Amazon's battle with Hachette continues to rage, with some major titles still listed as "not immediately available" and other newer ones still difficult to pre-order. Just recently, Hachette announced it was buying Perseus Books Group, meaning even more authors from 12 different imprints could be affected. Amazon finally went on record about the dispute in a Wall Street Journal article published last week, in which Amazon executive Russ Grandinetti said the company is all about “the long-term interest of our customers” (via NPR). And now it's playing even dirtier by trying to turn some Hachette authors against their publisher; in a particularly vicious move, Amazon wants to offer 100 percent of e-book sales to writers published by Hachette.
But now independent bookstores have become the cool kids at the party. The New York Times reported that Robert Sindelar, managing partner at Third Place Books in Seattle, has decided to take matters into his own hands: Since Robert Galbraith aka J.K. Rowling’s "The Silkworm" wasn’t available for pre-order on Amazon before its release, Sindelar offered the book at a 20 percent discount and provided free home delivery.
So here are seven Hachette books worth buying or pre-ordering from your local independent bookstore:
"Neverhome" by Laird Hunt: A fall book to pre-order: Hunt has made a bit of a name for himself for those who care about terrific literary fiction published by small presses, but his latest book has earned him even more recognition and the backing of a big publisher. "Neverhome" was selected as part of the Book Expo America’s Buzz Panel, meaning that it’s a book -- and he’s an author -- to watch. The novel centers around a woman who leaves her husband at home so she can fight as a Union soldier in the Civil War.
"Broken Monsters" by Lauren Beukes: The author’s last book, a literary thriller that focused on a serial killer who could travel through time, received lots of attention from eager readers. Beukes' new book is due out in September and once again fuses fantastical elements with gritty suspense.
"So We Read On: How the Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures" by Maureen Corrigan: The critic for NPR’s "Fresh Air" is no stranger to books about books. She’s the author of "Leave Me Alone, I’m Reading!" and her forthcoming work of literary criticism looks at one of the best books of all time. (Pub. date: Sept. 9)
"California" by Edan Lepucki: Lepucki's debut novel is out from Little Brown this week, and she’s already a kind of celebrity in the literary world. Sherman Alexie recommended her book on "The Colbert Report," and the comedian himself pointed viewers toward indie bookstore Powell’s to pre-order copies. He also made “I didn’t buy it on Amazon” stickers available on his own website, and some indie bookstores have been making those available for their customers to wear as a badge of honor. "California" is a post-apocalyptic novel in which the author “conjures a lush, intricate, deeply disturbing vision of the future, then masterfully exploits its dramatic possibilities,” according to Jennifer Egan. The book is now available on Amazon, but pre-orders weren’t allowed.
Any books by Luis Alberto Urrea: The Mexican-American writer is known for his fiction ("The Hummingbird’s Daughter," "Queen of America" and "Into the Beautiful North") but he’s also recognized for his nonfiction, including Pulitzer Prize finalist "The Devil’s Highway," a book that focuses on Mexican immigrants trying to make their way to America by way of the Arizona desert.
"The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore" by Benjamin Hale: This highly original literary novel came out three years ago and didn’t get the full attention it deserves. It’s an interspecies love story between a primatologist and a precocious chimpanzee, and it’s dark and funny and full of moments of wisdom: “But language for the sake of communication follows language that is noise for the sake of fun—that is, music—and—this I truly believe—all truly beautiful language is for the sake of both: communication and music.”
"The Thin Place" by Kathryn Davis: For those readers who like strange, surreal books in realistic settings, Davis, author of the satisfying and complex "Duplex" (published by Graywolf Press), is a writer whose books you want to linger over and appreciate for the imagination and the prose. This earlier novel is, on the surface, about a New England town, starting with three girls who discover a dead body, but it’s really about a lot more than that.