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Amazon deal makes librarian Nancy Pearl less beloved

June 21, 2012 |  2:51 pm

Nancypearl_actionfigure
Nancy Pearl, the author of "Book Lust: Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment and Reason" and cheery NPR commentator, may be the nation's most beloved librarian. So beloved, in fact, that there is an action figure of her. Two, actually, the standard and deluxe edition, pictured above, which is librarian complete with library. She may be the most famous librarian in the U.S.

That kind of profile can lead to some interesting projects, and for Pearl, a lifelong book recommender, a book imprint of her own was a logical step. That imprint is titled Book Lust Rediscoveries, and it brings books Pearl loves back into print.

The only catch is that it's with Amazon.

The Washington Post talks to a number of local booksellers, both independents and a Barnes & Noble branch, that have declined to stock the books. To them, the math just doesn't make sense.

Any brick-and-mortar bookstore can buy the books from wholesalers in much the same way it would buy titles from any other publisher, according to Amazon. The problem is that the list price of the books could be as much as twice what it is on Amazon.

The controversy over stocking her books "just made me very sad," Pearl tells the Washington Post. It's interesting that booksellers would balk at Pearl, who cuts such a likable figure and whose "Book Lust" was a bestseller.

It's parent company Amazon that's the problem. "I don’t want to stock a book and have Amazon get the money,” Mark LaFramboise, chief buyer at the well-known Politics and Prose bookstore, told the Washington Post. Amazon, he says, wants "nothing other than our total annihilation."

But in a way, this helps Amazon, because those who want the books from Pearl's Book Lust Rediscoveries will have to buy them from the online bookseller. So far, her imprint has published four books: "A Gay and Melancholy Sound" by Merle Miller, first published in 1962; "After Life" by Rihann Ellis, first published in 2000; "Fool" by Frederick G. Dillen, first published in 1999; and, initially published in 1973, Elizabeth Savage's "The Last Night at the Ritz."

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-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Nancy Pearl with her deluxe action figure in 2005. Credit: The Seattle Times

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