Keen-eyed Pat Pereira is one of the booksellers who keeps watch over all the goings-on in our store’s children’s section. Today she shared with me a rather interesting (and I think entertaining) phenomenon on the Stephenie Meyer front. Little, Brown recently published a hardcover "Special Edition" of Eclipse (the third book in Meyer’s wildly popular series) that includes bonus materials not available in the original edition, though (to Little, Brown’s credit) at the same price as the original, $19.99. The bonus materials include a full-color poster (printed on the back of the book’s dust jacket), two iron-ons, and the first chapter of the long-awaited Breaking Dawn, which won’t be released until August. Pat’s report to me today was that teenage girls are coming in to the store, picking up the new Special Edition of Eclipse, reading the first chapter of Breaking Dawn at the back of the book, then putting it back on the shelf and leaving.
My reaction: Who can blame them?? If you’re a Stephenie Meyer fan who already owns Eclipse in hardcover, how fair is it to expect you to buy it AGAIN, just so that you can get a glimpse of what’s coming in August? I personally believe it’s rather unfair. If Little, Brown (or Stephenie Meyer) wanted to insist on making money off Breaking Dawn’s sneak preview, I’d have preferred to see them put it on a secure website and charge readers some nominal amount of cash to access it. What I really would have liked to see, though, is everyone embracing the fact that teenagers are so OVERJOYED by this series of books as to just post that first chapter online for them to read FOR FREE. As for how that would affect the flow of cash into publisher/author coffers, I think the buzz that would have followed everyone’s free access to that first chapter would have sold enough additional copies of Breaking Dawn to more than make up for the "loss" of not having published its first chapter at the back of a "Special Edition" of the previous book.
I suppose this is very un-retailer-like attitude, but what can I say? I hate the idea of such enthusiastic readers (especially YOUNG enthusiastic readers) having to cough up the cash twice and walk away with little more than two copies of the same book.
I suppose that’s why I’m having a hard time mustering any discontent with the teenagers coming into our store and treating it (for brief stretches of time) like their own Stephenie Meyer Reading Room. If you’re an Edward- or Bella- or Jacob-loving teen without the available resources to purchase Eclipse a second time (or convince a parent to purchase it for you), AND the first chapter isn’t available for you to read online, AND all the new edition copies have been checked out of the library, well…? What’s a teen to do?
Bookstores to the rescue! I wondered if anyone had actually confessed online to this illicit in-store chapter-reading and, lo and behold, I found many, many Meyer fans who mention having done so. What’s pasted below is just a sampling.
When I read this one I had to wonder about the definition of "obscure bookstore" (hopefully not any independent bookstore that I know):
And here we have an argument against having comfy chairs in your store:
"So my sis in law TJ and I decided to go to Hastings and have some hot chocolate and grab a copy of the special edition of Eclipse that has the first chapter of Breaking Dawn at the end of it, and sit down in their comfy chairs and read it."
We’re going to assume this next blogger doesn’t live anywhere NEAR any independent bookstores:
The same goes for this one:
But this is the post that really summed up my thoughts:
"Yes, I sneaked a look at the Breaking Dawn preview inside the new "special edition!" of Eclipse – which is wrapped in plastic to prevent people from reading the preview without buying the book, but I did find one that wasn’t shrink-wrapped.
"That is a bad, bad thing to do to a devoted fanbase, especially a devoted teenage fanbase. Hardcovers are expensive enough without having to buy a book twice over, and Breaking Dawn may be coming out in August but since when are fangirls known for delayed gratification?"
If you aren’t familiar enough with the Stephenie Meyer fanbase to fully appreciate the level of their enthusiasm, please do yourself the favor of watching this completely charming video on YouTube, in which a teenage girl who has just had a GLIMPSE of Breaking Dawn‘s cover proceeds to speculate about everything the cover image could possibly suggest. You go, fangirl.