As you may know, Destinations Booksellers is a member of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, the regional trade association of brick-and-mortar independents from Texas to Florida to Virginia to...well, New Albany. We're the odd duck, allowed to join by waiver of the rules. There's little question that we are at the farthest edges of the South, but it made little sense to join in with Michigan stores when we're basically part of one of the South's biggest cities. The Great Lakes Booksellers Association is a fine one, but we don't share the same interests, really. Besides, I'm a Southern boy.
Of course, we do pay a price. Meetings are very far away - Orlando, Atlanta, Winston-Salem, Richmond - but then a trip to Dearborn, Grand Rapids, or Chicago can be just as onerous. And our Southern-influenced holiday catalogs can often have a few too many Charlotte/Miami/Mobile books for my own tastes.
Which is the long way around to introducing the following commentary from Nicki Leone, the Web site and marketing manager for SIBA.
A recent colleague posting on our listserv (bookseller forum, Yahoo group) asked for definitions of "literary fiction." I thought Nicki's response was well done and, with her kind permission, I'm sharing it with you.
When Bristol Books first helped create the Cape Fear Crime Festival, I became involved in alot of mystery discussion groups, and this topic would invariably arouse all sorts of ire. "Literary" was used as an insult, to describe novels that were "boring," "confusing," and where, famously, "nothing happens to a bunch of people you don't care about." (I think that is actually a paraphrase from something Tony Hillerman once said, but I might be wrong.)
In truth, however, "Literary" to me has always been a description of style, not a judgment of worth. In my own mind, literary fiction is any novel where the story's internal requirements take precedence over any external rules of the genre. Mysteries, for example, are supposed to provide you clues to deduce the solution, but not give anything away until the end. A literary mystery may follow an investigation, but will not let clue-dropping interrupt the narrative flow, nor worry about the niceties of deduction at the expense of the story's own internal themes.
Which is why, I suppose, literary mysteries are said to "transcend the genre."
By the way, SIBA and the GLBA will be joining forces this Tuesday for a bookseller forum and next year, both groups will be gathering for a joint trade show in Louisville, KayWye, at the Galt House. I will be arranging credentials for a limited number of patrons who'd like to see the upcoming titles for Christmas 2008, meet the very top authors and learn a bit more about the industry. In exchange, I'll be asking you to give me just two hours of volunteer time during the three-day weekend to help us with running the show. I guarantee you will love the experience. Two regionals have never joined together, so you can bet the publishers will be going all out to send their very best authors to this giant show. Send me an e-mail or note to express your interest. Don't trust me to "remember" unless it's down on paper.
Here's your bestseller report from Book Sense, the independent bookstores across America.
Once again, The Secret by Rhonda Byrnes is reported as the best selling book in the Louisville metropolitan area, according to BookScan.