They’re Destroying My Novel!

My debut novel _Toiletten_ was released in September 2003. That seems ages ago, but I’m still learning new things about the book publishing business.

I’d never given much thought to the distribution center where hundreds of unsold copies of my books must exist. Apparently, my publisher pays the distribution center to keep them there. And apparently, if they remain there for too long, without much hope of selling many more anytime soon, my publisher is going to _switch on the shredder_ and _destroy the remaining books_. Wow!

The good part about this is I finally have some hard numbers. People are always asking me how many books I’ve sold and so far, I had to tell them I didn’t really know. But now I do. Three years ago, 3159 copies of _Toiletten_ were printed. During the last twelve months, only 23 were sold. In all, there’s 1615 left.

My publisher Querido is offering the remaining supplies to “a chain of budget bookstores”: They’re also giving me ten copies free of charge, as well as the opportunity to buy more at cost price — in other words, _dirt cheap_.

This last bit has got me thinking. I’m not saying _Toiletten_ is _the great Dutch novel_ or whatever. But it’s a fun little book. Especially people in their late teens, early twenties seem to like it a lot. And I keep getting e-mails from German girls who were brought to tears by my story.

(The book was translated for Germany, where it sold a couple thousand more. Luckily I haven’t heard anything about German shredders yet.)

Anyway, doesn’t it seem a waste to let all these books be destroyed, even if that’s just the way things work?

To make a long story short, I’ve sort of decided to take my change jar, turn it upside down, use my savings to buy back my remaining books and _do something fun_. You know, keeping with the _’Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugar water or do you want a chance to change the world?’_-attitude.

The thing is I have a hard time figuring out the fun part. Because _Toiletten_ is supposed to be _the proverbial good bathroom book_ I’ve thought of offering them to a company that installs toilets, so they can give one to each of their clients. I’d rather have my debut novel end up with young people who will actually read and enjoy it, though.

I’m going to be mulling this over in my head for the next couple of days, and talking to some friends about it, but you can help me out too. If you have a great idea for doing something fun with 1615 copies of _Toiletten_, don’t hesitate and e-mail me (hit the Contact link above).

Of course, if you’d like to buy one for cheap — or ten, so that you’ll have a great present for the next year of birthday parties — feel free to e-mail me as well.