Perhaps there are no surprises left in life, but I’ll admit that I was surprised to learn that Amazon is violating the publication date for Vernon Downs and selling it now, ahead of the April 15 pub date, as a response to Roundabout’s shipping pre-ordered copies now at my request.  Who knew a little novel written by a part-time writer and published by a small press would be so important to Amazon?

I hope you’ll resist the urge to order from Amazon and buy directly from Roundabout.  I receive no royalties on any copies sold between now and the publication date and even though Amazon thinks that publication date is now, I’m honoring my arrangement with Roundabout not to take any money from sales until after April 15.

I’ve asked Roundabout to alert the reps at its distributors (SPD and B&T) that they can fulfill bookstore orders now that Amazon is flagrantly selling the book.

So if you’re interested in reading Vernon Downs, just click here to get a copy from Roundabout.

Here’s another reason to buy from Roundabout rather than Amazon, via Shelf Awareness:

The New York Times pulls a few revolting tidbits from Brad Stone’s new book, The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon (Little, Brown). By 2004, Stone recounted, Amazon was squeezing large book publishers, demanding “steeper discounts, longer periods to pay, and better shipping,” the Times wrote. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos “then turned up the heat on the most vulnerable publishers [smaller publishers]–those most dependent on Amazon.

“The company’s relationship with those publishers was called the Gazelle Project after Mr. Bezos said Amazon ‘should approach these small publishers the way a cheetah would pursue a sickly gazelle.’ A joke, perhaps, but such an aggressive one that Amazon’s lawyers demanded the Gazelle Project be renamed the Small Publishers Negotiation Program.

“Mr. Stone writes that Randy Miller, an Amazon executive in charge of a similar program in Europe, ‘took an almost sadistic delight in pressuring book publishers to give Amazon more favorable financial terms.’ Mr. Miller would move their books to full price, take them off the recommendation engine or promote competing titles until he got better terms out of them, the book says.

“ ’I did everything I could to screw with their performance,’ Mr. Miller told the writer. The program was called Pay to Play until the Amazon lawyers changed it to Vendor Realignment.”

Click here to order directly from Roundabout Press.

About Vernon Downs:

Charlie Martens is desperate for stability in an otherwise peripatetic life. An explosion that killed his parents when he was young robbed him of normalcy and he was shuttled from relative to relative, left alone to decipher the world he encountered in order to cobble together an answer as to how he would live. Ever the outcast, Charlie recognizes in Olivia, an international student from London, the sense of otherness he feels and their relationship seems to promise salvation. But when Olivia abandons him, his desperate mind fixates on her favorite writer, Vernon Downs, who becomes an emblem for reunion with Olivia.

Charlie’s quest takes him from Phoenix to New York City and when chance brings him into proximity to Vernon Downs, he quickly ingratiates himself into Downs’s world. Proximity invites certain temptations, though, and it isn’t long before Charlie moves dangerously from fandom to apprentice to outright possession.

“Vernon Downs is a gripping, hypnotically written and unnerving look at the dark side of literary adulation. Jaime Clarke’s tautly suspenseful novel is a cautionary tale for writers and readers alike–after finishing it, you may start to think that J.D. Salinger had the right idea after all.”

— Tom Perrotta, author of Election, Little Children, and The Leftovers

“All strong literature stems from obsession. Vernon Downs belongs to a tradition that includes Nicholson Baker’s U and I, Geoff Dyer’s Out of Sheer Rage, and—for that matter—Pale Fire. What makes Clarke’s excellent novel stand out isn’t just its rueful intelligence, or its playful semi-veiling of certain notorious literary figures, but its startling sadness. Vernon Downs is first rate.”

 —Matthew Specktor, author of American Dream Machine

“Moving and edgy in just the right way. Love (or lack of) and Family (or lack of) is at the heart of this wonderfully obsessive novel.”

 — Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story

“Jaime Clarke’s Vernon Downs is a brilliant meditation on obsession, art, and celebrity. Charlie Marten’s mounting fixation with the titular Vernon is not only driven by the burn of heartbreak and the lure of fame, but also a lost young man’s struggle to locate his place in the world. Vernon Downs is an intoxicating novel, and Clarke is a dazzling literary talent.” 

— Laura van den Berg, author of The Isle of Youth 

“An engrossing novel about longing and impersonation, which is to say, a story about the distance between persons, distances within ourselves. Clarke’s prose is infused with music and intelligence and deep feeling.”

– Charles Yu, author of Sorry Please Thank You

“Vernon Downs is a fascinating and sly tribute to a certain fascinating and sly writer, but this novel also perfectly captures the lonely distortions of a true obsession.”

–Dana Spiotta, author of Stone Arabia

Jaime Clarke is the author of the novel We’re So Famous, editor of Don’t You Forget About Me: Contemporary Writers on the Films of John Hughes, Conversations with Jonathan Lethem, and Talk Show: On the Couch with Contemporary Writers, as well as co-editor of No Near Exit: Writers Select Their Favorite Work from Post Road Magazine and Boston Noir 2: The Classics. He is a founding editor of the literary magazine Post Road, now published at Boston College, and co-owner of Newtonville Books, an independent bookstore in Boston.


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