Tag: indie

Amazon Sends Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Testaments’ Early by Mistake

Amazon preorders of Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments have been shipped out to readers ahead of schedule. By mistake.

A handful of reviews appeared on NPRThe Washington Post, and The New York Times yesterday even though there was supposed to be a strict embargo on the novel before its September 10th release date. And some readers are rushing to Twitter and Instagram to show off the copies they’ve received early.




According to BBC, Penguin Random House claims:

In the US a very small number of copies of Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments were distributed early due to a retailer error which has now been rectified.

We appreciate that readers have been waiting patiently, in some cases for more than thirty years, for the much-anticipated sequel to the bestselling The Handmaid’s Tale. In order to ensure our readers around the world receive their copies on the same day, our global publication date remains Tuesday 10th September.

The small number of copies received by these lucky readers total around eight-hundred.

Though some Atwood fans may be celebrating that they could get their hands on The Testaments early, many independent booksellers are frustrated that Amazon seems to have ignored the embargo. The fact that readers have received copies ahead of schedule from Amazon can drastically impact an independent bookstore’s bottom line, especially when they rely on the rush of first-day sales to drive their business.



Lexi Beach, one such bookseller whose “world is crumbling around [her] right now,” took to Twitter to vent about Amazon’s brazen disregard  of the embargo.



Unfortunately, Beach is kind of right. Amazon’s business model is much different from your average independent bookseller’s. The online-shopping behemoth can afford to take a lot of losses on titles like The Testaments in a strategy to grow their customer base. Independent stores, on the other hand, often rely on the buzz huge titles like Atwood’s generate to drive business to their stores. And given that Atwood’s sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale has been shortlisted for The Booker Prize and is already on many best-selling lists based on preorders alone, the fact that Amazon can shamelessly violate the embargo all booksellers had to sign is made even more disheartening and terrifying.



Paul Swydan, owner of Silver Unicorn Books, also took to Twitter to express his frustration:



Penguin Random House released a statement regarding the incident. However, they didn’t address Amazon by name, preferring to keep things vague.



Understandably, the independent booksellers Amazon continues to undercut are still angry and worried Amazon won’t be held accountable. After all, what can you actually do to affect the site that controls roughly 50% of book sales in the world. Even a publisher the size of Penguin Random House can’t really afford to tarnish their relationship with Amazon. Beach noted in another tweet that PRH could delay shipments of future releases to Amazon to prevent them from capitalizing on first-day sales. That’s the typical way smaller booksellers are disciplined, but who knows if PRH will or even can use those methods with Amazon.



Featured image via My Office Magazine and Instagram: @damagedbutinvigorated

book tunnel

Do the Environment a Favor and Shop at an Indie Bookstore!

Do you have a favorite bookshop? No, Barnes and Noble doesn’t count. I mean an independent bookshop, small, cosy, possibly family run. Handmade signs and questionable color schemes. Sometimes dogs. The one where you can sit for hours, enjoying your unique surroundings, and forgetting about all your responsibilities and then end up feeling horribly guilty because you’ve neglected every other aspect of your life. You’ve been missing for days. Your family has called the cops. Your plants are withering. You have several hundred unanswered emails. You know, that bookshop.


guilty dog

You, feeling guilty | Via Giphy


Well, according to Indiebound, your hours spent there are actually very beneficial to the economy, the environment, and your community. So you can stop feeling bad, as the benefits, according to the Indiebound website, are pretty much endless.


happy dog

You, delighted that your time-wasting has been justified | Via Gif Finder 


In terms of the economy, if you spend $100 at a local-owned business, $68 of that stays in your community. However, if you spent the same amount at a national chain, only $43 will remain in your community. Local businesses also create higher-paying jobs for members of the community, and therefore more taxes are reinvested in the locality. Local businesses also donate to charities at more than twice the rate of national chains. Indiebound also points out that ‘more independents means more choice, more diversity, and a truly unique community.’


Shopping local also has a positive effect on the environment as it means less packaging, less transportation and therefore a smaller carbon footprint. So you win points with Mother Nature too!


happy pizza dog

You, slobbering happily all over the news that your indie bookshop obsession is good for the economy, environment and community | Via Tenor



That’s all on top of the fact that local bookshops tend to put on wonderful, intimate author events such as Books Are Magic in Brooklyn, who host talks and readings every week! So make sure to follow any and all of your favorite indie spots on social media to keep up to date with what they’re up to!




Featured Image Via Publishing Perspectives

Brooklyn's The Center for Fiction

Brooklyn’s New Center for Fiction: A Space for Writers and Readers

When you step foot in Brooklyn’s own The Center for Fiction, you’ll be ready to book your membership. Bookstr was lucky enough to snag an afternoon tour of the new space, but you’re going to want to stay a lot longer than that.

Recently relocated to 15 Lafayette Avenue, The Center for Fiction is more than just a bookstore—if anything can be ‘just’ a bookstore. It’s an impressive feat to fit thousands of worlds within the space of a single room… even if that room is spacious, modern, and beautifully lit. The Center for Fiction is an exceptionally curated bookstore, complete with thoughtful staff recommendations and indie releases. While browsing the high shelves (complete with rolling ladders like something out of a fairytale), I spotted one of my own niche favorites in the stacks: Kirk Lynn’s Rules for Werewolves, a dark and inventive 2015 release from Melville House—more notably, one I’ve never seen in another brick-and-mortar store.


The Center for Fiction Bookstore


Adjacent to the bookstore is the Center’s café, a charming spot whose walls are lined with 19th century novels. If you’ve ever fantasized about being peers with the historic greats (so, if you’re a writer) this is a dream that won’t require all that much fantasy. Sip an espresso, read a first-edition manuscript, and get lost in this novel idea.


The Center for Fiction's café, complete with paintings and first-edition 19th century manuscripts

Each table in the café is artfully topped with literary quotations.


Members have access to an even more impressive selection of features: a second-floor library with a 70,000 book collection. The basement, appropriately, is the 16,000 book crime & mystery library. Trust us—this is the only time you’ll want to be below ground with so many serial killers. (You could say it’s a collection to die for.)


The Center for Fiction has a sleek, modern decor juxtaposed with the antiquated and cozy.


The spacious upstairs features a sun-drenched reading room, complete with an adjacent outdoor patio. Plans are in development for an outdoor bar, so you may as well start planning to drink there. The reading room is a laptop free zone, which will enable you to concentrate fully on whichever book you’ve chosen and leave the world behind. A unique combination of the modern and refined, you’ll feel comfortable and inspired by this one-of-a-kind space.


The Center for Fiction Reading Room



The writers’ room offers a secluded yet inspiring space for those in all stages of their craft, be it an excited beginning or a far more frantic conclusion. Windows look out onto a vibrant neighborhood; inside, the atmosphere is peaceful and modern. Desks are spacious and outfitted with dividers (so, no direct eye contact with the person sitting across from you). With an adjacent kitchen, you’ll have everything you need to write all day… if you’ve got the concentration.

But The Center for Fiction has more than an updated space; it also has a vibrant, new community. Literature lovers can participate in a series of reading groups with varied prices for members and nonmembers—explore writers like James Baldwin, Aldous Huxley, and Henry James with high-level reading groups and discussions. Writing workshops are also available across a wide variety of disciplines, from genre-based courses on speculative fiction or crime writing to craft-based courses on dialogue and structure.

Individual membership is $150, dual membership is $275, and family membership is $325 annually. Although membership doesn’t cover the fees for writing and reading groups, it does count towards a 10% discount on all courses and special events. Of course, membership does include full borrowing privileges from both of The Center’s libraries, access to the reading room, and admission to the private bar.


All Images Via The Center for Fiction.

Indie Bookstores Are Back After Decades of Decline

The history of bookstores has been far bleaker than readers might have hoped. The end began in 2011 with the closure of Borders, a bookselling giant responsible for the death of many a local bookstore. Borders’ attempts at resurgence were numerous and failed, culminating in their disastrous launch of the Kobo: an e-reader with no internet. Other chains were soon to follow. Book World, the leading book retailer of the Midwest, closed its doors in 2017. Barnes & Noble hasn’t yet taken a tumble… but it has taken quite the hit. The retailer plans to close 167 stores by 2022, leaving swaths of the country—even highly populated areas—without large chain bookstores. Although Washington D.C. spends more money on readingthan anywhere else in the United States, the District lost its last B&N back in 2015.


Image Via Pennlive.com


Chain bookstores were once the destroyers of indie bookshops. With their resources and massive retail spaces (which usually housed cutting-edge merchandise like alphabetical CD collections) it was challenging for the smaller local store to compete. After the recession, this dynamic reversed. Over the past eight years, the number of indie bookstores has increased by 25% while the larger retailers have faltered.


Image Via Money.howstuffworks.com


The explanation might be as complicated as it is simple: people have decided that they like to read books. That can be the only explanation when technological innovations have failed—the Kobo was an obvious disaster, and, while Barnes & Noble’s Nook helped it from meeting Borders’ fate, it hasn’t saves its clear decline in sales. It’s also possible that indie bookstores can appeal to niche markets-in particular, LGBT+ bookstores are able to cater directly to their clientele. These stores provide more than just retail: they also offer a sense of community that Amazon cannot.


Image Via Pride.com


“Independent bookshops are important because we’re a refuge, and we’re dead against everything becoming the same,” said Daniel Ross, proprietor of Bristol bookstore Storysmith. The UK in particular has experienced a resurgence of the indie bookstore. Since 1995, the number of independent bookstores has declined from 1,894 to a mere 867. In 2017, the decline plateaued, the number of stores increasing by one. And just a year later, the number spiked for the first time in over twenty years to reach 883.

While the number of indie bookstores hasn’t reached its 80s peak, the comeback is a sign of an even greater resurgence. It demonstrates that while big bookstores can’t hold up to Amazon’s onslaught, neighborhood bookstores can—and that means they likely will.

Featured Image Via Nextpittsburgh.com

Courtney Barnett

Courtney Barnett’s New Single Is an Ode to Margaret Atwood

Courtney Barnett is an Australian singer/songwriter widely known for her bold, blunt lyrics and easy, conversational style of singing. Her music blurs the line between spoken word and indie rock, and NPR has deemed her, “the best lyricist in rock music today.


Barnett hit the world by storm with the 2015 release of her debut album Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit. Still, despite the excitement many felt from seeing a new, insanely lovable artist with such a refreshing, honest, witty style, Barnett was never fully safe from the hate-filled trolls of the interweb. 


Shortly after her initial album release, Barnett received the strangely-simple-yet-weirdly-aggressive message, “I could eat alphabet soup and spit out better lyrics than you.”


So, she took the remark and used it to fuel the lyrics of her latest single Nameless, Faceless.


“He said “I could eat a bowl of alphabet soup
And spit out better words than you”
But you didn’t
Man, you’re kidding yourself if you think
The world revolves around you
You know you got lots to give
And so many options
I’m real sorry
‘Bout whatever happened to you”


Barnett used the line to take a critical look at gender roles and as a broader take down of the patriarchal society built upon expectations and beliefs that harm both men and women. A society that raises women to believe they must be submissive, weak, malleable, and never make a fuss. A society that teaches men that, in order to keep their masculinity intact, they must never let their softness show and always remain angry, aggressive, and on-top.


She flows into the chorus with the famed Margaret Atwood quote:


“Men are scared that women will laugh at them / Women are scared that men will kill them”


This line is used as a basis to describe her own experiences of walking home alone from pubs late at night with her keys between her knuckles, ready to defend herself should anyone try to grab her or do her harm. 


This song is relatable in all the ways it shouldn’t be in today’s world. I know I, personally, have used this defense (along with pepper spray, tasers, and keeping a close friend on the phone with me should I need someone to call for help), and I know many (if not all) of my female friends have, as well. 


Safety is a big issue within gender inequality. Women are taught from a young age that we should learn the best ways to protect ourselves—take self-defense classes, make sure we are never out at night alone, always let someone know once you’ve made it home okay. (I’ve even gone as far as indefinitely sharing my iPhone location with friends when I’ve been out on dates.) 


It’s refreshing to see an artist speak out about something that sounds so commonplace and mundane, yet shouldn’t be. Noticing a stranger’s presence as he begins to follow you down an empty street at night, forcing yourself to ignore the intense stare of a man sitting across from you on the train so you don’t accidentally make eye contact, always feeling obligated to react and reject advances politely when being hit-on so as not to become one of the thousands of women murdered a year for saying “no”, can somehow always manage to shake you down to the core, leave your anxiety at it’s peak, and really start to wear you down. Witnessing someone in the spotlight use their artwork to loudly say “hey, I’ve been there, too. I get it, it sucks, and I’m tired.” feels redeeming and hopeful.


Barnett’s take is raw, gritty, and honest, all while still remaining energizing and fun, with her Atwood references adding a literary twist! 


Check it out now!




Featured Image Via Mixdown Mag