Beloved Librarian Who Signed With Amazon: ‘The Vehemence Surprised Me’

Nancy Pearl, the famous librarian (and action figure!) who recently partnered with Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) to republish a handful of out-of-print titles each year, tells the New York Times and Seattle Times that based on the reaction she’s received it’s a “hard question” whether she’d do it again.

Amazon Publishing is launching Pearl’s line at a time when many in her community — independent booksellers, librarians and some authors — are very angry at Amazon for what they see as predatory business practices, relentless discounting and attacks on independent bookstores.

“By aligning herself with Amazon, she’s turning her back on independents,” Seattle Mystery Bookshop owner J.B. Dickey told the Seattle Times. “Amazon is absolutely antithetical to independent bookselling, and, to many of us, truth, justice and the American way.”

The New York Times (NYSE: NYT) says, oddly, that the amount of money that Pearl is getting from the deal with Amazon “is not enough to fill a tin cup.”

Also, “Her agent, Victoria Sanders, shopped a rediscovery line to 20 publishers. None were interested.” Sanders elaborated on this to the Seattle Times: she approached “every major publisher in New York” and “inevitably, the publishers bowed out after deciding it wasn’t worth the effort, particularly because negotiating the rights to so many books was involved.”

Sanders also told the Seattle Times that she’ll make “a couple of hundred” dollars per book. In a statement unlikely to endear her to anyone who does not regularly eat $200 lunches, she said that is “enough to buy me and a guest lunch in Manhattan at a nice restaurant, and I mean lunch.”

Pearl told the NYT it’s “a hard question” if she’d do it all over again, “but I would still want these books back in print.” Many in the book publishing world respond by asking why Pearl didn’t just decide to self-publish the books. Presumably, the reason she did not want to do so is the effort required to negotiate the rights to what the Seattle Times calls “so many books” but which, according to the original announcement, is about six a year.