Here is my one of my guilty secrets: I hate to preorder. Yes, I understand why preorders are so important to authors: preorders get counted toward a book's first week of sales, giving that book a stronger chance of making a bestseller list.
But I hesitate to preorder because I've been burned by them SO many times.
To me, a preorder is a statement about how someone feels about a book. Namely, they're really really excited about it. They want to read it as soon as possible. They have handed over their credit card information for it before it even comes out.
What I don't understand is how preorders go wrong for me so much of the time. If I preorder, I'd hope to get the book on its release day. Okay, maybe the very next day. But I don't preorder expecting to wait much longer than that. And I don't understand how a vendor runs out of that book if I've preordered. Um, there's a PRE in preorder. "Pre" means “prior to.” “In advance of.” “Beforehand."
As in, "I knew there was a huge demand for this book prior to its release. In advance of its release. Before its release."
I can't believe the publishers are at fault. If a vendor were to call a publisher months before a book was released and say "hey there, we have huge demand for this title and want to be sure we can fill all our preorders," then I have to believe the publisher would be like "awesome - let us print some more copies so that you can sell as many of those babies as you can."
Here's what happened with my latest preorder:
2. Amazon (ominously) never gave me an expected shipping or delivery date, even by noon on the day of the book's release. For future reference, that's a BAD sign.
Note: I'm not suggesting that Amazon is the only vendor who does this. I've had similarly bad experiences with Barnes and Noble preorders...
3. Concerned, I went to Barnes and Noble on the book's release date. Around 11:30 am. The store opened at 9 am. Plenty of time to get those shelves stocked with lovely new books!
4. Not a single copy of The Raven King anywhere to be found. Seriously?
5. I went on my phone to the B and N website and saw that my Barnes and Noble claimed to have copies. Where? Boxed up in the back? Do they not understand that there is a LIFE OR DEATH SITUATION INVOLVING GANSEY? So I used my phone to request an in store pick-up and went across the street to Staples to buy some packing tape.
6. While at Staples, I got a text that Barnes and Noble was holding a copy for me! Hooray!
7. I went to pick it up and because I'm weird like that, re-checked the shelves. Five copies of The Raven King had suddenly appeared next to a few paperbacks of Blue Lily, Lily Blue. Under a sign that said "Teen Romance." Um ... really?
8. Canceled the Amazon order.
9. Felt happy that there was apparently such demand for The Raven King, but incredibly frustrated that the bookselling industry can't manage to GET POPULAR BOOKS IN PEOPLE'S HANDS in a timely fashion. I think there must be a complete disconnect between what booksellers think that preorder means ("we will take your credit card number and then send you the book when we get around to it") and what consumers think a preorder means ( "I am REALLY interested in this book. I am telling you this weeks or even months early so I am sure to get a copy as soon as it comes out.")
Do I just have bad preorder karma or do you have stories of preorders gone wrong? Tell me in comments!