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Borders' Liquidation Sales an Unexpected Boon for Authors

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When a bookstore closes, it's always a loss -- for the community, for readers, and most especially, for authors. The impact of the closing of 600 Borders bookstores is incalculable.

But as the last of the 600 stores are shuttered, I've discovered that Borders has given authors a parting gift. During the month of September, as Borders sold off their stock at deep discounts, sales of my novel jumped. Exponentially.

According to the Nielson Bookscan reporting service, sales for my environmental thriller Boiling Point (Berkley) doubled the second week of September, doubled again the week after that, and then held steady at the same peak level during the fourth week of September.

Other authors have noted a similar increase. Sara J. Henry, author of Learning to Swim, a mystery that published this past February from Crown, reports: "My sales numbers soared two weeks ago, nearly tripling the number of sales from the week before. Last week, the number dipped, but remains high. My publisher said yes, this was because of the Border's close-out sales."

"Same story for me, " says Paul McEuen about the September sales spike for his debut thriller Spiral (Dial Press), adding, "It took me a week or two to figure this out."

The Borders bookstore chain has always been good to me. Borders stocked both my mass market paperback titles long after the book had disappeared from grocery store and Barnes & Noble shelves. I happened to be shopping at a Borders bookstore when my agent called with the news that we'd sold my first novel. And this past January, that same Borders bookstore set up a booksigning for me -- the last such event before the store closed.

What's particularly interesting about Boiling Point's September sales spike is that my novel's Bookscan sales numbers correlate almost exactly with the number of books the remaining 300 Borders bookstores would have had in stock -- two copies per store -- which means that ALL of the Borders copies of my books have been sold.

This is significant because of the way bookstores operate. Typically, bookstores order in more stock than they expect to sell, and eventually return the unsold books to their respective publishers for full credit.

But because Borders is liquidating all of their stock by selling the books they have on hand at deep discounts, none of these books are being returned. I and other authors are actually selling more copies of our books than we would have if Borders had not gone out of business -- a much appreciated, and yet deeply poignant final gift.

Thanks, old friend. You'll be missed.