Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Reader's Frustration :: Where are the books?

Most of these books were
released earlier this year.
Normally by the second week of every month, I've read at least two Harlequin romances. Right now, I'm not a very happy reader. I managed to grab one September release Desire last month, it was a Maureen Child title, but I wasn't able to grab any of the others before they were gone.

Aside from that one book, I haven't been able to read any Harlequins over the past two months because they have suddenly become unavailable in stores in my area. This is so frustrating I could chew nails.

Where are all the books? 

Back to my reading habits... When it comes to romances, I read more Desire books than any other line, with Nocturne a distant second. The Nocturnes are almost impossible to find for some reason. It didn't used to be that way when the line first started. But, I'm not the only one noticing this problem. My friend in Kentucky, who is a Nocturne reader, has confirmed this in her area as well, so it's not just a Louisiana distribution thing.

At first, I simply had to run to the store within a few days of the books arriving on the shelf to pick out the ones I wanted. However, our local store now usually carries only one of the two Nocturne books released every month, and they don't carry many copies - no more than three or four - so the Nocturnes sell out almost as soon as they hit the shelves.

The Desire books used to be easier to pick up. That's what got me started reading them. I think Harlequin releases six Desire titles a month, so I had a much better chance of getting a book I wanted. Of six Desire books a month, I'd typically buy and read four books throughout the month. That's been my habit for the past year and a half? Something like that.

Let me just say, since about May, I've been struggling to find Desires and Nocturnes on the shelves. Our local Walmart has gone from having all the Desire books on the shelves per month, to four of the books per month, and now there are none being put out. The Nocturnes are nearly gone as well. I spotted one Karen Whiddon Nocturne in a store thirty miles away just a few days ago. I am absolutely frustrated with trying to buy these books.

I've been to three locations in the past two weeks, in my town and surrounding areas, and the only Desire line book on the shelves right now is one of the thicker novel type Desires by one of Harlequin's top tier authors. (Which means, their books are given the special treatment - they're longer and more expensive. They're different.) That is not what I'm looking for.

So, unless I want to order these books online, I can't purchase them in the store. Right now, with my husband out of work, I'm cutting costs at every corner. It's currently cheaper to buy these books at a retailer, than it is to buy them online. The digital books are more expensive that the print, but the print books have a shipping cost attached if I buy them from the eHarlequin shop or any other online bookseller.

Yes, I can buy the paperbacks used cheaply, but even if I spent a penny on a used book from Amazon, with the 3.99 shipping added, it still costs more to buy the book used, than if I'd purchased a brand new Harlequin off the shelf. Pretend a moment I were to buy a full month's collection of books used. If the books didn't come from the same seller, it would then cost me an additional 3.99 in shipping per book.

It's gotten to the point with searching for these books, that I have friends and family scouting stores further out for me. I can't afford to drive two hours, waste a tank of gasoline, and then the books not be on the shelf when I get there.

As of today, I'm writing to my local stores to lodge a complaint about the availability of the books. Right now, there are only Presents, a scant few Intrigues, and Blazes at my local store. I'm shocked really, given the area, that they no longer carry Love Inspired. Those were always a big seller here. Now, poof. They're gone.

I don't know where the knot in the distribution chain is happening. If people are buying the books - and there I was buying four to six books a month, and I could tell I wasn't the only person buying them by looking at the dents in the stock - then, I don't understand why they have stopped carrying these lines in my area.

This is so frustrating for a reader. Someone has seriously dropped the ball with this one.

All that said, please understand, I'm not upset with the authors at all. I realize the distribution is out of the author's hands, but I've stopped looking at the releases online, because it's cruel temptation. I know I can't order them online right now, and it's nearly impossible to find the books in the stores. I hope by complaining to my local stores, I'm able to at least get a few of these books back on the shelves.

Should something come of all this, I'll write an update post when I hear something back.

4 comments:

  1. Does your local Walmart stock a good supply? I live in NY state and my Walmart has a ton of Nocturne. Not sure on Desire, I'll have to check.

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  2. Hi Nancy! How have you been? I'm very interested to hear you have a lot of Nocturnes in NY! Maybe that's where they're sending them all. ;o)

    I'm kidding, of course. I'd love to hear what your Desire line shelf looks like over there, too.

    I live in a very small town, and Walmart is my top places to look for the books. Walmart is primarily who I was posting about locally, but there is a grocery store here that has stopped carrying them, too. Oh! And the Walmart a town over no longer carries the books either.

    If I can remember to do so the next time I'm in either of the stores, I really should take pictures of the shrinking shelf space so people can see what I'm seeing.

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  3. You are not alone! I noticed last year in Illinois that the Nocturnes had disappeared off the Target and Walmart shelves. It's almost impossible to find one. I even thought that Harlequin had discontinued the imprint, but I checked their website and they still have them available. Weird.

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  4. Kate, thanks for the heads up on the Harlequins in your area. I'm beginning to wonder if Harlequin has scaled back on distribution. With the cost of paper printing, and gas to ship books on the rise, and never mind the issue with returns, I can see how it would make sense to target distribution to certain areas. :(

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