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Why Sally Rooney should be more like Dave Eggers.

Emily Temple

June 9, 2021, 10:38am

Like almost everyone in the history of the universe, Dave Eggers has a new novel coming out this fall. It’s called The Every, but as The New York Times reports, its rollout is going to look a little different than usual. The hardcover, which will be published by McSweeney’s on October 5, will only be available in independent bookstores—not on Amazon. The books in the first run will be printed with at least 32 different covers, randomly distributed amongst bookstores. Six weeks later, on November 16, the e-book, paperback, and will be published everywhere.

“I don’t like bullies,” Eggers told the Times. “Amazon has been kicking sand in the face of independent bookstores for decades now.”

One of the themes of the book is the power of monopolies to dictate our choices, so it seemed a good opportunity to push back a bit against the monopoly, Amazon, that currently rules the book world,” he continued. “So we started looking into how feasible it would be to make the hardcover available only through independent bookstores. Turns out it is very, very hard.”

Of course it is—every arrangement is set up to include Amazon, and publishing is a business; no one wants to make a move that loses money. This is a creative—and brave—move, though it will also certainly bring Eggers (who has always been a little DIY and unorthodox) added publicity, which a cynical person might say is the point.

But the news made me wonder: what if, say, Sally Rooney tried the same gambit with her next book? (After all, isn’t she a Marxist or something?) Or Colson Whitehead? Or perhaps a little writer I like to call . . . Jonathan Franzen? All of these heavy-hitters have books coming out this fall.

This is not meant as any shade to Eggers, who is certainly a household name in literary circles, though attention for his books has been somewhat hit or miss since 2013’s The Circle. I just want to see the mega bestsellers doing this. That’s what will really hit the evil giant where it hurts. Still—it’s a start.

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