Since I write reviews for the Oregonian, I get review copies sent to my house. I'm on a first-name basis with the UPS guy. He's even came to one of my signings.
So I got an advance readers copy of The Alexandria Link, by Steve Barry, which isn't on sale until February 6. And inside the envelope was not only the book, but this very hard to open faux parchment envelope. And inside the envelope was this scroll made of more faux parchment and gold plastic. It says, "A library lost 1600 years ago … The ancient world's greatest cache of knowledge. Imagine what it contains. Now join Cotton Malone and find it." There was more information about the book and some mysterious letters, which we are cautioned to remember are keys to solving the mytery of the book.
It kind of made me cringe. I did spend the extra seconds getting the envelope open, but it probably cost a couple of bucks to make the whole thing, and once I read it, it's not the kind of thing I'll hold onto, use, or want to share with anyone. It just seems like a waste.
When my friend Barbara Seranella was writing her series about a car mechanic, she gave out teeny screw drivers to booksellers. That was genius. It tied in with the book and it was something you would want.
On the other hand, what would I want? Chocolate, but there's the risk of melting. Maybe a really cool bookmark. Or a pen with a rollerball. Or a magnet.
I kind of feel like Judas. He saw the woman wiping Jesus's feet with expensive ointment, and he said, "That ointment could have been sold and the money given to the poor." I wish the publisher had done something different with its money. Given it to the poor, or another author further down the food chain. Or at least invested it some good chocolate. This time of year, it wouldn't melt while it sat on my porch in the UPS envelope waiting for me to come home.