It's mid-list Monday! Go to your favorite indie shop and buy a book by an author you've never heard of - someone whose book came out with no major marketing plan, isn't on a table display, has no swag attached to it (magnets, posters, and such-like), and is just sitting spine-out on the shelves. If there's one you've heard of but don't see at the store, they can almost certainly order a copy for you (and almost no store will charge you shipping!)
Now, I realize that it's also cyber monday. And I can definitely see the benefits of online shopping - when I was a teenager, I lived in a small town with no indie shops. And no major chains for a while there, either. If there was a book or album or movie I heard about, odds that I'd be able to find a copy were slim. If it was still in print, I could have had a local mall book store order it for me, but that can be intimidating - asking for a copy of some obscure horror novel was as daunting as going to the drug store and asking the old lady at the desk for a thing of condoms.
So I can certainly see how Amazon can make life better for people - I just wish they weren't so, well... evil. They tactics they employ to bully publishers and producers to keep their prices low are just about the same tricks Wal-Mart uses (with the added trick of not charging sales tax - which I have to admit is nice, but which also creates unfair competition to local stores). Stories about working conditions in the warehouses are pretty horrifying, and the tactics they're using to dominate the ebook field are disheartening (though, contrary to what you may have heard, you CAN read books purchased in other formats on a kindle - you just have to pull a few tricks of your own).
But you can also order online from indie stores - try http://www.indiebound.org. It's incredibly important to support your local book shop - Borders is gone, BN could be next to go, and soon the only place left to find books could be either your indie shop or the local Target.
And I'm terribly afraid that soon enough, the selection at BN will resemble the selection at Target: nothing buy a few select titles with big marketing money, movie tie-ins, and a highly selective back list. Some of these books are terrific, but, well...midlisters need not apply. As I work on new books, the pressure I feel to stick with the formulas and trends if I ever want to see my books in more stores (or, soon, ANY stores) is pretty overwhelming. Some people complain that all YA books these days are paranormal romances. That isn't true - but it IS true that all you see on the tables at most stores are either paranormals or the odd contemporary by an author who was well established BEFORE paranormal took over.
So head on over to your local indie store (or indiebound) buy a book from a mid-list author (like me) and help us claw our way to the a-list for Mid-list Monday!