Posts Tagged With: amazon

All your base are belong to us

LoseringOn the one hand, yes, it’s always nice whenever a five-star review turns up on amazon, because one can never have too many of those. But on the other hand…well, the review below is so obviously not about the purported subject that I have difficulty believing it was written by an actual person. What on earth is Abel Tobias on about here? It’s a mystery, wrapped in an enigma (and very possibly a Seinfeld reference).

So anyway, yes, I am happy to know that this reviewer found “Losering” to be perfectly sized and spectacular-looking — I agree! But truly, amazon works in mysterious ways…

UPDATE (6/15/2017): Sometime in the past week, that review disappeared. Fortunately, however, the screengrab will live on here.

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Hey 19 — and 18

Near as I can tell, “Losering” and “Comin’ Right at Ya” have never been in the top-10 of amazon’s country book chart at the same time — although it’s almost happened a few times over the past year. But it’s nice that, more than a year after “Comin’ Right at Ya” was published (and four-plus years on for “Losering”), they’re both still bouncing around enough to briefly come to rest within one space of each other in the top-20.

As I keep telling myself: Slow and steady wins the race.

 

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So close!

It’s been a while since I’ve checked in on “Losering”‘s sales ranking on Amazon, mostly because I quit checking regularly when it got to be too depressing. So I took a look today and saw that it’s up to 39 reviews, which is nice; and even nicer, that it’s currently the closest it’s ever come to the summit of Amazon’s Country Books, at least in America. It did get all the way up to No. 1 in the same category up in Canada, but never in the U.S.

Anyway, fun to see “Losering” at No. 2, right behind the noted song scribe Whisperin’ Bill Anderson and just ahead of bluegrass deity Ricky Skaggs.

 

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Madonna and Mary J. Blige: Lots more drama, coming right up

The American Music Series I co-edit for University of Texas Press marches on with our newest releases, a pair of titles due out on the first of March — and they’ll definitely break us out well beyond anything like Americana. So keep an eye out for two books I’m proud to have been involved with, “Madonnaland And Other Detours into Fame and Fandom” by the fabulous Alina Simone; and “Real Love, No Drama: The Music of Mary J. Blige” by Kansas City-based author Danny Alexander. Now I’ve got two more reasons to obsessively check amazon every day.

Meantime, next up on the American Music Series docket will be T Bone Burnett, coming this fall.

ADDENDA: An actual New York Times review of “Madonnaland,” plus an excerpt on LitHub and a most-excellent PopMatters review. Also from PopMatters, a Blige review.

 

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Faraway, so close!

This isn’t the first time that both “Comin’ Right at Ya” and “Losering” have crept into the top-20 of amazon’s country-music books chart at the same time — but it’s so, so close to both of them being in the top-10 together. One of these days…

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DRA 1989: off the charts, but onto tape

DRA1989tapeThis week, DRA 1989 completes its chart run (or at least the initial leg of it) by disappearing, falling from last week’s No. 138 ranking all the way off the Dec. 5 Billboard 200 after eight weeks. It had a solid No. 7 debut in late September but then dropped every week thereafter — except for a brief one-week sales spike when the physical version came out a few weeks back. Except for that, it pretty much mirrored the chart performance of 2014’s Ryan Adams, which debuted at No. 4 and was gone after seven weeks.

But who knows, maybe DRA 1989 will get another bump up when it’s released next month on…cassette. Yes, that’s right, DRA 1989 really is being released on that outdated hair-metal-era artifact, the humble audiocassette tape, which is fitting given Ryan’s ongoing run of ’80scentric tributes.

Anyway, the DRA 1989 cassette is priced at $12.98 (which also includes an MP3 digital download) and will be available Dec. 11, according to Amazon. Sounds like a nice Christmas gift for Ryan completists, and it would even go well with this!

 

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November brings another first: A two-for-one bonus

October has given way to November, but I’m still regularly checking in on the foursome that I call The Books of October. And while none of them are hitting the toppermost of the poppermost just yet (still waiting, world!), there are some encouraging signs along the amazon.

“Los Lobos: Dream in Blue” is up to 14 reviews on amazon, all of them perfect five-star scores. Enough favorable reviews have amassed for “MJ: The Genius of Michael Jackson” to pull its overall amazon average above four stars. And “Don’t Suck, Don’t Die: Giving Up Vic Chesnutt” is still getting great reviews on and off amazon (even, ye Gods, from Pitchfork — a truly unexpected pleasure).

As for yours truly, Team Benson/Menconi’s “Comin’ Right at Ya” has a half-dozen amazon reviews now, all of them five-star, which is a nice start. And in the process of checking up on it the other day, I noticed a brief interlude when I had not one but two entries in the top-20 of amazon’s country-books chart. It came to pass that “Losering” pulled within a couple of spots of “CRAY” — also in the vicinity of yet another friend, Barry Mazor’s Ralph Peer book (which I wrote about in the paper earlier this year).

As you can see below, screen-grabs of such moments are the stuff of cheap-thrill dreams.

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PopMatters reviews “Comin’ Right at Ya”

PMCRAYAlong with amazon reader reviews (two so far, both five-star), editorial reviews of “Comin’ Right at Ya” are starting to turn up — you can find some of them at the CRAY page above, in fact. And add to that a very nice one that came out today on PopMatters, which also had some very kind things to say about “Losering” a few years back. I particularly like the way this review closes:

It’s a tidy ending for the book, but far from the final chapter for a man who keeps chugging along and following his muse and vows to keep “riding that wave”.

Check that out here.

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We’re #1!

I know better than most that this means pretty much nothing, and yet I still can’t help feeling a bit of a cheap thrill to see something of mine at the top of any chart — even if it’s just amazon’s Hot New Releases in Country Music. Relax and enjoy the ride, I always say. And being higher up than Garth Brooks is always nice…

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Pulling for friends along the amazon

October’s an exciting month for me, book-wise, because I have a lot of irons in the fire and books to root for right now. I’ve got my own book out, of course, to go with a pair of just-published titles in the American Music Series I co-edit for University of Texas Press — Chris Morris’ “Los Lobos: Dream in Blue,” and Kristin Hersh’s spectacular “Don’t Suck, Don’t Die: Giving Up Vic Chesnutt.”

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 3.59.21 PMThose three books came out via UT Press on Oct. 1. Five days later, my good friend Steve Knopper published his latest book, “MJ: The Genius of Michael Jackson” (Scribner). It should come as no surprise tht I’ve been obsessively checking amazon every day to follow the progress of this quartet of books. And while none of them are exactly burning up the charts just yet, they all seem to be off to solid starts. How the sales picture will turn out over the long haul, that’s up to the universe. All we can do is hope for the best.

At the moment, however, the most interesting metric to track is not sales positions but reader reviews, which have become increasingly important for us lowly mid-list types struggling for traction in a crowded marketplace. Get a bunch of reviews, and that might help sales along. Morris’ Los Lobos book is farthest along in that regard, already with eight reviews — all of them with the maximum five-star rating. Nice, very nice.

Vic“Don’t Suck, Don’t Die” has just three reader reviews so far (two of them five-star), but I expect that pace to pick up in a hurry. National Public Radio recently reviewed “Don’t Suck, Don’t Die” and said it is “not only one of the best books of the year, it’s one of the most beautiful rock memoirs ever written.” I thought the same thing when I read the original manuscript, and reviews like that have inspired UT Press to give this one the maximum push — they’re thinking that 50,000 in sales might be possible. Well, on behalf of the entire American Music Series list…I’ve got my fingers crossed.

Meanwhile, Team Benson/Menconi’s “Comin’ Right at Ya” has just a single amazon reader review so far, but at least it’s of the five-star variety. That takes a little of the sting out of the fact that I recently got my first-ever one-star amazon review, for “Losering” — more than three years after its original publication date. A reviewer identified as “Amelia, Austin Texas” called it “A weird book” in a four-sentence dismissal that questioned if I’d ever actually spoken to Ryan Adams (snicker) before concluding, “This book sucks.” A more generous soul would refrain from noting that this particular reviewer has a “helpful” rating of just 38 percent, but I am not that person. So I’ll just say this: Bless her heart.

MJStill, that’s nothing compared to what’s happened on amazon thus far to Steve’s Michael Jackson book, which is being savaged by hyper-protective Jackson partisans who will not tolerate anything less than 100 percent glowing praise of their hero. So even though “MJ” earned a Booklist starred review that called it “very powerful” as well as an excerpt in Rolling Stone (where Steve has been a contributing editor for many years), four of his six amazon reader reviews are one-star takedowns accusing him of slander and bias.

Steve is one of the most all-around fair-minded people, let alone writers, I’ve ever known. But given what a fraught subject Jackson continues to be, I was afraid something like this might happen, after the amazon-reviewer reception given to 2012’s “Untouchable: The Strange Life and Tragic Death of Michael Jackson” by Steve’s Rolling Stone colleague Randall Sullivan. “Untouchable” drew so many anonymous one-star slams from Jackson partisans who didn’t appear to have even read the book that the New York Times cited it as a prime example of books victimized by orchestrated campaigns of bad amazon reviews as “attack weapons.”

After the attacks subsided, “Untouchtable” eventually picked up enough decent reviews to bump its overall average (for 389 total reviews) up above three stars, which is at least respectable. I hope a similarly kind long-term fate awaits “MJ” — and also success, whatever that means nowadays, for all four of these books.

ADDENDUM (9/17/2016): Well how about that — another of Steve Knopper’s books comes in at No. 44 on a great list to be on.

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