The excellent Brent Cunningham, big cheese at Small Press Distribution out the Bay Area way (god, I remember ordering from that catalogue from my dorm room at Virginia Tech – first editions of Radi Os and The Years as Catches, strange chapbooks & oversized, ill-printed treasures by poets whose names I had heard only as strange, talismanic sounds), has posted a link on his FB page to this Publishers Weekly article, which details some of the competitive nastiness that Amazon.com seems to be encouraging in its bid to drive independent bookselling into the ditch. Among the latest: "customers regularly scan books with their smart phones and then order discounted copies directly from Amazon, or even use the bookstore’s free Wi-Fi to download Kindle e-books to their devices."
Well, John Ruskin had the remedy for that, and came up with it as far back as the 1870s: the Net Book Agreement, by which the publisher set the price the retailer would charge for the book, & would no longer supply books to a retailer who sold them below that price. While the NBA didn't come into general practice until 1900 in Great Britain, Ruskin had sold his own books under such a system since the early 1870s. This is the book: it's a half-guinea without plates, a guinea with; that's what you sell it for. You want to sell it for 10 shillings? – too bad; you won't be getting copies.
It's the dissolution of the NBA since the mid-90s, among other things, that has been the downfall of British independent bookselling. If there's no set price at which a book must be sold, then Barnes & Noble and Amazon, with their tremendous volume, will sell it at a discount, and will drive out of business the small concerns that can't afford to cut their prices. Think of it as the Wal-Martization of the book industry.
Which is all a long-winded way of saying: I have a new book out – I haven't mentioned it in this space for a full month, so I think it's time to mention again. It's called Torture Garden: Naked City Pastorelles. It's forty-two short but nasty poems, packed with nutty goodness. It will change your life harder than a naked torso of Apollo. And it makes an equally fine present for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, or that moment when you're thinking "I need to give my sweetie something that'll make him/her say Gosh! that's just what I wanted!"
You can buy it directly from the publisher, The Cultural Society, by using this link, and everything over production cost will be ploughed directly back into Zach Barocas's master project of flooding the world with fine poetry. Or you can buy it from Brent Cunningham and the excellent human beings at Small Press Distribution, who will apply their rather nominal percentage of the take to their master project of making small press literature available to the masses. I think both options are equally virtuous.