He says, “How does a new author break into this landscape? It's never been easy. The key has always been diversity at the retail level. There's a big difference, say, between 500 buyers all buying for their own stores and one chain-buyer purchasing for 500 outlets. Buyers for independent stores tend to cancel out each other's mistakes; no single error in judgment can sink a prospective literary career. But when the system is dominated by a small handful of powerful buyers, their decision can make or break a book. Often, there is no appeal from such a decision. One of the dirty little secrets of the book business is that publishers often check in advance with the buyers for the chain stores and mass merchandisers before agreeing to publish a book. If the answer they get is no, the book may never see the light of day.”
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The New York Times kept track of prices throughout the day for a handful of hot new books.