In response to the release of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Presents A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo and follow up letter from Tyrrell Mahoney, President of Chronicle Books.
[Also included is the initial letter from Tyrrell Mahoney, President of Chronicle Books.]
The GLIBA Board was greatly discouraged by the way Chronicle Books chose to handle the initial launch of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Presents A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo. We all had a strong response to the release, and then to the follow up letter from Tyrrell Mahoney. By sending most of the stock to Amazon for the initial lay down, Chronicle is teaching the consumer and all the world that Books=Amazon. Continuing to supply Amazon as the first point of purchase only serves to cement that idea in our customers’ minds. We strongly refute that premise and can point to any number of examples of embargoed books from other publishers in which ALL outlets were given equal access to the initial sales. Every Oprah Book Club selection for years has benefited from all retailers having an opportunity to sell the book from the lay down. Many of us have websites where we could have immediately sold Marlon Bundo to our customers. Instead, our loyal customers that choose to support us are STILL waiting for the books because the Indies have received little or no stock. It is unfortunate that Chronicle does not see us as professionals capable of doing our jobs, or as trusted partners in the business, especially as so many of our stores have carried their product in good faith over the years. Ultimately, it is our hope that they will choose, in the future, to recognize the Indie market as the viable, profitable one that it is.
President of GLIBA & Owner of The Learned Owl Book Shop
A letter from President of Chronicle Books Tyrrell Mahoney
On behalf of Chronicle Books, I apologize for any frustrations you have experienced these past few days following the launch of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Presents A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo. I hope you know from your history working with us as an indie ourselves that this was certainly not our intention.
Among the myriad ways you uphold civil rights every day, MANY THANKS to all of you who’ve pledged support for ‘every bunny who has ever felt different’ as well as to the work of the Trevor Project and AIDS United, which will be receiving proceeds from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Chronicle Books, and so many of you through sales of this book.
We had to ensure that the book was a complete surprise for the Last Week Tonight with John Oliver audience. So, after much deliberation and exploration of other options, we ultimately agreed to make the book available for purchase at the time of the on-air surprise by allocating a percentage of the print run to Amazon and making the rest of the first print run available to all our other retailers as soon as possible. We knew it wasn’t a matter of embargoing the book, nor did we think a blind release would guarantee the integrity of the surprise.
While its launch isn’t how we’d normally go about business, none of us predicted how phenomenally viewers and readers would respond to John Oliver’s announcement – and that we’d go from 40,000 copies in print to 400,000 in the pipeline in 4 days. Our #1 goal right now is to get this book into your store and into those eager readers’ hands. I recognize this is not moving as quickly as we would like with current orders and we have addressed this with our distributor, Hachette Book Group. We are working with multiple domestic printers to print more books quickly as possible. In the meantime, we thank you very much for your patience and your understanding.
With gratitude, appreciation, and renewed apologies,
President of Chronicle Books
The defunding of the University Press of Kentucky (UPKY) is an action that we condemn in the strongest possible terms. Taken together, our membership includes hundreds of independent bookstores and booksellers across thirteen states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. This resolute, joint statement of support for the publishing program of the UPKY is consistent with our shared mission - the promotion of literacy, education, and the right of free expression.
On behalf of our members, we recognize the unique contribution of UPKY’s regional publishing program, as regional books represent a significant contribution to every bookstore in the United States.
Michael Boggs, co-owner of the three Carmichael’s Bookstores in Louisville, Kentucky, wrote us, “The recent decision by the governor of my state, Kentucky, to completely defund the University Press of Kentucky sounds a death knell for a concern that has for 75 years provided its citizens and libraries with books of history, fiction, biography, nature, food, music, and folklore that spotlight the culture of my state. As a bookseller here for 40 years, I have witnessed first-hand the high level of interest among my customers in books from the University Press of Kentucky, because nowhere else can they get essential stories of the place they call home. This decision is shortsighted and imprudent, robbing the citizens of Kentucky of connection to their land, their history, and their traditions and customs.”
Nathan Montoya, owner of Village Lights Bookstore, offers his praise for UPKY as well, “Titles from the University Press of Kentucky are part of the life blood of Village Lights Bookstore. We are located in Madison, Indiana, across the river from Payne Hollow, Kentucky. Harlan Hubbard, an artist who, with his wife, Anna, settled and homesteaded Payne Hollow in the mid twentieth century, has been likened to a modern-day Thoreau. Visitors from around the world come to our store, asking about the Hubbards and Payne Hollow. The University Press of Kentucky publishes most of titles written by or about Harlan and Anna Hubbard in print today. The loss of these titles would diminish not only the richness of our store’s offerings, but the literary and cultural heritage of our entire region.”
Kentucky writer Wendell Berry wrote recently in the Louisville Courier-Journal, “our political and economic life is not going to be adequately served by the great commercial publishing companies, or by the university presses of other states. That need can only be served, and it has been admirably served, by the University Press of Kentucky. . . . Because we have sustained that press for 75 years with a very modest investment of public money, we have The Kentucky Encyclopedia and Lowell Harrison’s and James Klotter’s A New History of Kentucky, books that have the distinction of being indispensable to Kentucky students young and old; and we have in print books by James Still, Harlan Hubbard, Jim Wayne Miller, Bobbie Ann Mason, and Crystal Wilkinson that will be needed by coming generations of literate Kentuckians . . . .” UPKY is indeed, as Berry puts it, “a priceless asset.”
The UPKY is a publishing consortium made up of Kentucky's state universities, five of its private colleges, and two historical societies. The UPKY has won countless prestigious awards for publishing in many disciplines, including history, Appalachian studies, African-American studies, and literature. The UPKY also produces a varied list of books for a national audience, including military, film, and cultural history. Major book review media consistently recognize the UPKY titles. We are grateful for the publishing program University Press of Kentucky offers to our customers, and its contribution to American arts and letters.
We ask that the Kentucky legislature restore the funding of the UPKY immediately.
Board of Directors, Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association (GLIBA)
Board of Directors, Midwest Independent Booksellers Association (MIBA)