Here’s one way to cut down on the stacks of unsolicited manuscripts that are piling up all over the office. Independent Portland publisher Tin House Books has announced that unsolicited manuscripts must be accompanied “by a Receipt for a Hardcover or Paperback from a Real-Life Bookstore.” The program, called “BUY A BOOK, SAVE A BOOKSTORE!” is, despite the combination of caps and exclamation mark, a stroke of genius. It’s a feel-good way to score points with independent bookstores while at the same time providing an excuse to return unwanted manuscripts. Who says there’s no creative thinking in book publishing these days?
Of course, allowances can be made:
Writers who cannot afford to buy a book or cannot get to an actual bookstore are encouraged to explain why in haiku or one sentence (100 words or fewer). Tin House Books and Tin House magazine will consider the purchase of e-books as a substitute only if the writer explains: why he or she cannot go to his or her neighborhood bookstore, why he or she prefers digital reads, what device, and why.
Writers are invited to videotape, film, paint, photograph, animate, twitter, or memorialize in any way (that is logical and/or decipherable) the process of stepping into a bookstore and buying a book to send along for our possible amusement and/or use on our Web site.
I suppose the haiku he and/or she might write for this purpose would go something like this:
Brick and mortar store:
I think I’ll drop in and browse.
Wait! Here’s my package!