It’s a century since a transport company was founded in my home town of Napier with the epithet Aard. A word that founder R. R. Woodcock coined so he’d be at the very front of the phone book.
He knew what was doing. It’s a lesson driven home to me whenever I walk into bookshops and look for my own titles. Conveniently, most shops rank their authors alphabetically. In Whitcoulls’ main Wellington store (their national flagship) that means my books are sitting at floor level, whereas people with names in the first few letters of the alphabet are at eye level.
It does make a difference – indeed, it’s been shown scientifically that having a name closer to the front of the alphabet is usually an advantage.
The way around it is to have a rampant best-seller, in which case bookshops put piles of your book in the front where customers fall over them on the way in. That sort of display (and sales) has actually happened to me a few times – The Reed Illustrated History of New Zealand (Reed 2004), Big Ideas (Random House 2009) and 2011 Historic Hawke’s Bay and East Coast (Bateman 2011).
But for the most part my stuff get stacked at the end of its categories. Penalty for having a surname near the end of the alphabet.
I wonder how Roger Zelazny got on?
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2017