Don’t Invitems Deux

Last month in “Don’t Invitems” I remarked the bitter tone of the Canadian Booksellers Association’s account of the Scotiabank Giller Prize nominees in CBA News – all because the Giller is giving away an Amazon Kindle as part of the booty.

Whether the CBA’s wrathful attitude had any effect on’s sales I can’t say. The Prize announcement itself definitely boosted the authors’ sales:

According to BookNet Canada’s BNC SalesData, the 2010 Scotiabank Giller Prize finalists saw a lift in sales of 191% in the week of the shortlist announcement compared to the previous week.

The winner of this year’s Scotiabank Giller Prize will be announced tonight (November 9).

Meanwhile, the “Don’t invitems” list of Amazon adversaries has grown. A Guardian report hints there might be a scene if Melville House and Amazon meet at a party.  

Amazon has contributed $25,000 to the Best Translated Book award for BTB promotion and to allow, for the first time, cash prizes for the winning authors and translators. This offended Melville House co-founder Dennis Loy Johnson who wrote online that he was “withdrawing from any future involvement with the Best Translated Book award” in protest at’s involvement:

Johnson called the online retailer “predatory” and “thuggish”, and said that for the many Melville House staff who had previously worked in independent bookshops – which find it difficult to compete with Amazon’s steep discounts – taking money from Amazon “is akin to the medical researchers who take money from cigarette companies.”

Johnson’s decision to shun the Best Translated Book award in the future cannot have been an easy one — his company published the most recent winner of the BTB award for fiction, The Confessions of Noa Weber by Gail Hareven, translated from the Hebrew by Dalya Bilu.

Don’t Invitems

“Don’t invitems” is how the late columnist Walter Winchell used to describe bitter rivals, and people can expect quite a scene if they invite the Canadian Booksellers Association and Amazon to the same party.

The CBA ordinarily might have given a resounding cheer for the latest Scotiabank Giller Prize shortlist, because the author of the best Canadian novel or short story collection published in English will win $50,000.

Instead, in the October 5 issue of its newsletter, the CBA stuck the knife in up to the hilt. Why?

The ninth annual “Guess the Giller” contest is currently underway. And while the press release notes, “This year, nearly 30 public library systems, 150 bookstores, 33 post secondary schools and 1,010 Scotiabank branches from across Canada are promoting the contest to Canadian readers,” Michael Neill (owner of Mosaic Books in Kelowna) wonders how many booksellers are truly going to support a contest that includes in its grand prize an Amazon Kindle and $50 Amazon gift card. As Neill notes, “This is a US product designed to have people shop with a US online retailer. Every Kindle sold results in zero future sales for an independent bookstore, or any Canadian company for that matter.”

[Thanks to John Mansfield for the story.]