No doubt many area fans of Stephenie Meyer (pictured) were thrilled to discover that the young-adult author would be appearing at East High School Auditorium on Monday, May 19, to talk about her latest book, The Host. I know my fifteen-year-old twin daughters were. But whereas virtually all book-oriented appearances staged under the auspices of the Tattered Cover, the event's sponsor, are free, this one is far from it, suggesting that Meyer's publisher plans to squeeze every buck possible out of her devotees.
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On Saturday, May 17, my wife, son and I visited the Tattered Cover's Colfax branch -- and when my beloved saw a sign advertising the Meyer stop, she phoned my daughters to ask if they'd like to attend. They were eager, and why not? They adored Meyer's first book, Twilight, which has been turned into a movie due in December; we saw a preview for it prior to a screening of Redbelt, a film featured in another Latest Word blog. They've read the gothic vampire romance over and over again, and have done likewise with its two sequels, New Moon and Eclipse. Moreover, they're a-twitter with excitement over the impending release of Breaking Dawn, the fourth book in the series, which is set to appear on August 2.
So what's the problem? When my wife went to the Tattered Cover's counter to inquire about getting tickets, the clerk there told her that she could only get a pass if she purchased The Host and paid $2 on top of that. My wife replied that we'd already bought the book -- in fact, we picked up a copy on the day of its May 6 arrival in stores. In response, the clerk offered one ticket, but of course, we needed three: one for each of our daughters, as well as another for my wife, who'd also read Meyer's previous opuses so she could share in her twins' enthusiasm. But we didn't need two more copies of a book we already had, at an unnecessary additional cost of about $50 -- and so they won't be going.
The Tattered Cover clerk expressed frustration over this situation, making it clear that charging for such appearances is antithetical to the store's mission -- and indeed, the Tattered Cover has done a wonderful job over the years of bringing the world's finest writers to Denver for appearances that readers can attend at no charge. The text of the event information linked above also hints at aggravation. A key sentence notes that the book-and-ticket purchase requirement is being enforced "at the publisher's request," to make it clear the folks at the Tattered Cover didn't come up with the idea.
Meyer may not have conceived this arrangement, but she's clearly going along with an approach that's all about the short run, not the long term. Instead of rewarding Meyer fans for their passion and extraordinary loyalty, the plan takes advantage of them in an ultra-cynical bid to prop up book sales. That's sadder than anything in Meyer's books. -- Michael Roberts