Authors United has sent out a letter from the author Daniel Handler - a.k.a. Lemony Snicket - encouraging writers to take part in Upstream, a new programme to support independent bookstores.
Upstream, “cooked up” by Handler and “assorted interested parties”, aims to connect writers with their local independent booksellers.
Authors United founder Douglas Preston sent out the Handler letter, accompanied by a note which said he was doing so “in the interests of encouraging a healthy and diverse publishing ecosystem”. Authors United was set up to encourage Amazon to settle its dispute with Hachette Book Group in the US, which has been affecting a number of authors whose books have been subject to delayed shipping, among other measures.
In his letter, Handler writes: “Whether or not you are an author published by Hachette (as I am), you may lately feel as if you are engulfed in a rather unpleasant flood – as if the fate of your books if whirling dreadfully out of your control, battered by the waters of some enormous South American river, the name of which I cannot remember at the moment. While all this fierce sword fighting rages on without you, you may find yourself feeling even more hapless and hopeless than authors usually do, while your local independent bookstore struggles with a similar feel that it’s some sort of jungle out there.
“As a tonic, allow me to suggest a new program, cooked up by assorted interested parties and named, after some tipsy debate, Upstream. The idea is to connect authors with their local independent booksellers to offer signed books as an alternative to, say, larger and more unnerving corporate machinations.”
Handler said authors should choose and contact a bookseller close to their home, and sign books for them to sell.
Both the author and the bookseller would then be encouraged to promote the arrangement, “spreading the word not only about an exciting source of signed books to your readers anywhere in the country, but about a program anyone can join”.
Handler finishes the letter by saying: “Will Upstream rescue us all from strife and worry? Of course not. But the hope is that it will remind both authors and booksellers of their local, less monolithic resources, and improve general spirit de corps at a disheartening time.”