The lady behind the information kiosk at the Barnes and Noble here in Charleston lifted an eyebrow. Just one.

“Need help finding something?” she asked.

“Do you have a book called Wool?”

(They didn’t. I’d already checked. I was just being that author who wants to see if it’s something they stock.)

“Hugh Howey,” she said. Immediately. With no hint of recognition, or I would have said: “Hey” in response. “Are you looking for the Omnibus?” she asked.

She said this like she’d had this exchange a few times. There was some eye-rolling going on. “Yes,” I said. “That would be nice.”

Clickety-clack on the keyboard, even though I knew the book wasn’t in stock. She was  seeing about ordering it.

“I can order you a copy,” she said.

“Eh . . . no thanks. But I appreciate you looking it up.”

And so ended an exchange that went much differently than such exchanges in the past have gone. I’ve done this in a few stores, just to see if they can get my book in, and this was the first time someone knew of the book. And this is a Barnes and Noble, where they rarely stock books based on customer demand (they’ll tell a customer they’re better off ordering it from Amazon. I’ve had this response a few times).

Anyway, it was a pretty cool moment for me. It means customers are asking about the book. It also means these stores are missing out on sales!

A step in the right direction. Maybe more soon?

36 Responses to “Excuse me, ma’am—?”

  1. scottminer says:

    Ha, I was in there with my youngest last Sunday right before you arrived. I asked the people at that same kiosk (West Ashley right?) where I could find the book to the movie “The Rise of the Guardians”. Then I asked them where I could find “WOOL” by Hugh Howey. When they caught up to me a little later they informed it wasn’t in stock and if I wanted them to order it. I told them I understood them selling out… it being so popular and all. I wanted to tease them further but opted not to.

  2. Roshawn says:

    Nice to know that someone working in a bookstore knows about WOOL.

  3. Cara R. says:

    No stores around here have it. I’ve recommended it to my sister, but she doesn’t have an e-reader. If she bumped into it at a store she’d probably remember me suggesting it and buy it. Since that’s probably not going to happen, I am selfishly planning to order a hard copy on amazon and give it to her for Christmas. I desperately need to get someone I know hooked on this book so I can talk to them about it! :p

  4. Nice! And I wonder if they keep a little tally sheet with hash marks in the column “Sales We Lost Today”. Hm? No? Probably not.

  5. RD Meyer says:

    Nice! Some name recognition is always good.

  6. Brandon says:

    Everytime I go in there I search for WOOL to magically appear in the store!!

  7. Louise van Hine says:

    hold on… what is this ‘bookstore’ place you speak of? Books come from websites, don’t they? you just download them.

  8. John J. says:

    Hi. My wife bought the WOOL Omnibus on Kindle. I have to admit, I was impressed. Good pacing, great concept, just overall great sci-fi. Thank you for the stories!

  9. Joe Ramotowski says:

    Just finished Wool Omnibus edition. Great read! I look forward to the next book in the series. You just acquired a new fan. Nice work!

  10. Peter Mills says:

    I was in a Barnes & Noble in Florida just before Thanksgiving and they has the Omnibus in stock. It was in Sci fi in the new release section. It was pretty prominently displayed, actually.

  11. Beth says:

    Powell’s stocks your book. :) In Beaverton, OR. The one in Portland doesn’t, but maybe they were just out of stock.

    I’m talking New, not used too. =D They don’t have any used copies of your book which means that people love it so much they don’t want to give it away.

  12. Deb Robbins says:

    Nice!! Now I’m going to have to visit B&N again this month, just so I can ask about WOOL :) The West Ashley store, right? I’m not going to the Mt. Pleasant store if I can avoid it. That parking lot is brutal at holiday time.

  13. Michelle says:

    What on Earth was with the eyeroll?

  14. Eleanor says:

    So cool!
    I continually check the adult science fiction audiobook section(Next trip it’s the dead tree-paperback-hardback science fiction section. :D) just to see if Wool is there, quietly grumbling through recordings of college physics lectures all the way to the “H”s. Unfortunately, I am continually disappointed. Maybe one of these days I’ll be able to kick aside my introvertedness and ask a librarian. :P

  15. Jason Lockwood says:

    This post put a smile on my face, and not just because it’s a charming way an ‘unknown’ writer can find out if his work is becoming known. It also shows a level of self confidence that I think shines clear in Hugh’s writing.

    Well played, sir!

  16. Curtis says:

    The Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle has multiple copies of Wool in stock.

  17. Kitty says:

    Hi there! I just have to say how much I dove into the Wool omnibus…. Completely engrossed for days!
    My hubby and I were on a short break away to the south coast of New South Wales (Australia) where I saw your fabulous book prominently displayed in a great Indy bookstore :). I was thrilled to see it as I was half way thru my ebook version. I am eagerly awaiting more of your work and telling anyone who will listen how wonderful this story is :)
    Cheers

  18. Lance says:

    Love the series, even though I’m not really an apocalyptic science fiction fan. I haven’t bought a new book in a bookstore in years. I’ve ordered on line for sometime now. Last Xmas my kids bought me a kindle and I pretty much read e-books now. I found Wool on goodreads. I am looking forward to book eight- great stuff. Thanks for the imagination.

  19. Lisa says:

    My boyfriend….I guess that is what you call him read Wool Omnibus. I have to tell you that this is the first fiction book that he has ever read. (He usually reads boring non fiction books.) I really became intruigued when I saw him smiling while he was reading….that’s when I knew I had to download it too. We are having such fun discussing the book….so much symbolism! I hope and pray that there will be a movie made. I can’t wait to see how the silo will look!

  20. Zofia says:

    I first saw a mention of Wool in the Australian Woman’s Weekly
    Random house Ad for Christmas shopping
    ” for lovers of the Hunger Games this is an epic story of life and survival at all odds and on of the most anticipated books of the year”

    SO I JUST HAD TO READ IT

    Great book !!! will be looking for more in future

  21. Nadine says:

    Walking through the on line book store, thinking how boring eveything was looking ….I went to the sic fi section. I have never read a book from this genre. Wondering what I was doing in this section “wool” jumped out and picked me. I always say books pick me and not the reverse. Holy karma, what a book…..I am now a futuristic sic fi fanatic and loving it. On top of that Hugh howey has at least 100 new admirers …I just can’t quit telling people about “wool”… Thank you Hugh…..I am a fan forever from Anchorage AK

  22. Tom says:

    I don’t read often. But when I do read I read Hugh Howey.

    Couldn’t help it. Fantastic series. Thank you for the escape.

  23. Sheryl says:

    I checked our local B & N here in Wichita, Ks( yes we have a pretty good size WOOL fan group) and would order omnibus for me. I told them I already had it on my Nook (BTW thanks for ruining my Thansgiving by releasing 2nd Shift…I ignored everyone and burned turkey so I could read it.)
    On a different note… my 12 yr old turned me on to a cd by Imagine Dragons and 2 of their songs come straight out of WOOL…Radioactive and Nothing Left to Say. She is thinking about reading WOOL but hasn’t jumped off that cliff yet.

  24. Bekky Carter says:

    I just wanted to thank you for writing the Wool series. I am in a book club with fellow middle school teachers and this is the book we were suppose to read over Christmas break. I loved reading it and have bought First Shift Legacy. I’m really looking forward to reading this and hopefully many more of your books .

  25. Colleen says:

    Loved WOOL!!! I am trying to get my boyfriend hooked (he hasn’t read a book in about 7 years) and he said if there was a movie, he would watch it. Anyway, I’ll keep trying to get people hooked because it’s a fantastic story!

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