What's New?
Search This Site

Follow me on Twitter @jamieford and on Instagram jamiefordofficial


My blog silence is the sound of me writing, plus interview goodness

In the last three years of book travels I have amassed 828,000 frequent flyer miles with Delta. That's a LOT of airline peanuts and time spent being frisked at the airport. And loyalty programs are such weird concept with airlines anyway because you fly until you're weary of flying and your reward is...more flying.

So, I'm just sitting on the miles, hoping to someday reach 1,000,000 and perhaps I'll qualify for a ride in a Tardis, the Space Shuttle, or maybe they'll just do an intervention where they pry the suitcase from my hand. Let's hope it doesn't come to that.

BUT...for now I'm home. Yes, HOME! And I'm in the middle of a lovely, three-month oasis of time, with nothing but my laptop, a cup of coffee, my dogs at my feet, the sound of the rain, and a new novel in the works.


I might blog a bit less, but know that it means something better is coming your way.


Speaking of blogs. Here are a few recent interviews to keep you busy:

Arc of a Writer - Where I tease the new book that I'm working on.

The Hive - A brief rant on my love/hate relationship with technology.

Authors on the Air - Call in, ask questions, tell us your secrets.


Torn between two lovers

Digital vs. Analog. North vs. South. Crunchy peanut-butter vs. Smooth. Amazon vs. Hachette. Chuck Wendig offers what I think is the best, most even-minded, most humorous, and simply enjoyable take on the latest fracas in the publishing world.

Meanwhile, the battle rages.

But...I'm waist-deep in Storyland, working on the new book which is set between Seattle's two worlds fairs, in 1909 and 1962. Both are strange time periods, from women kicking off their corsets, to the button-down, post WWII, babyboom, Mad Men-esque suppressive splendor of the early 60s. Ah, life before the Internet.


Why bookstores matter. A biased report

There’s been an ongoing showdown between Hachette Books (the 5th largest US book publisher) and Amazon (who controls 50-70% of the ebook market). What they’re fighting about is up for speculation.

But what’s not up for debate is that Amazon has removed the buy buttons from the books of Hachette authors, like JK Rowling (writing as Robert Galbraith) and Michael Connelly, just to name a few. (The Everything Store did this once before, in 2010, during a spat with Macmillan Books).

The knee-jerk reaction from mainstream authors is that Amazon is the one doing the bullying. While those indie-authors who publish with Amazon are naturally claiming that Hachette is the real thug in this first world, corporate knife-fight.

Regardless of which side you’re on, or just an innocent, curious bystander, it’s important to note that Amazon has a valuation of an estimated $58 billion, so this isn’t exactly a donnybrook of two goliaths. This is like an NBA journeyman doing battle with the richest owner in the league. Sure, they’re both wealthy, but one could literally buy out the other 500x over.

Those who know me can guess where I stand on this whole thing. Despite selling a ton of books on Amazon, I do see them as the bigger bully on the playground. But that’s not what bothers me. What worries me is that they’re in a position to deforest the literary landscape. Yes, Borders and Barnes & Noble wreaked havoc on indie bookstores, but at least they replaced them with other bookstores.

The vibe from Amazon, like many corporations beholden to the expectations of shareholders, is that for them to succeed, everyone else must fail. And I don’t think that’s true—furthermore, I don’t think that’s even wise.

Here’s why:

Amazon will always need a showroom. They can do all the database marketing they want but their major attempts to sell their own traditional books have been dismal failures because their books weren’t showcased in physical bookstores. Your average Kindle user might think, who cares, physical bookstores are dinosaurs. They’re not. Bookstores are cultural showrooms and Amazon should find a way to compliment that business model rather than trying to eradicate it.

I’m Batmaaaan. Hear me out on this one (with or without a Batman voice). Comics used to be available at newsstands, grocery stores, 7-11s, basically everywhere. Now they’re primarily available at specialty stores. But when comics were everywhere, Batman’s circulation averaged 900,000 copies each month. Now, even with recent movies, the Caped Crusader is lucky to hit one tenth of that. Physical presence = top of mind awareness = sales.

Boxing used to be the greatest. If you’re old enough to remember watching ABC's Wild World of Sports (for free) then you remember them showcasing Muhammad Ali and boxing as a sport with national interest. Now it’s a niche sport. Not because of Don King’s hair or corruption, but because the pay-per-view model made a ton of money in the short term and shrunk the fan-base in the long-term. Boxing fans gladly paid to watch Mike Tyson, but a generation of potential fans was lost because they were never exposed to the sport.

Still not convinced about the showroom effect? Let’s talk about Apple, which had a superior computer product, a dedicated cultish following, and were widely available on the Internet, but their products didn’t soar into the cultural mainstream until 2010. What happened around that time? Apple Stores.

Bookstores matter because they are a vital part of the publishing ecosystem. Amazon needs them. I just hope they don't grow up and learn that lesson the hard way.


Extremely Loud and Incredibly Douche

A brilliant and thoughtful response to the Chipotle debacle.Not to keep beating the diversity drum but a few of us wrung our hands in worry when we heard about this and thought, no, they can't possibly be so culturally illiterate (like BookCon). Well, guess what kids, we were wrong.

Johanthan Safran Foerwhatever had a really cool idea. He said, "Hey, let's put literary stuff on Chipotle cups and bags!" And it's a brilliant publicity/marketing concept. The problem is, JSF (abbreviating because I can never pronounce his last name) has blinders on and he doesn't...even...know it.

He helped create the Cultivating Thought campaign featuring ten writers, including Malcom Gladwell and Toni Morrison. But none of them are Latinos. Granted, this is Chipotle, which is to Mexican food what Panda Express is to haute Chinese cuisine. Still. Junot Diaz? Luis Alberto Urrea? Borges? I'd actually eat at Chipotle for a Jorge Luis Borges cup!

Okay. Gotta run. I'm working on my Literary Fortune Cookie campaign for P.F. Chang's and I promised my friend, Jeff Yang, that I'd include at least one token Asian.

Peace, y'all.