Watching the Amazon Numbers

I spent this past weekend sitting in front of a computer screen – not writing, not escaping the snowstorm that never materialized here – but watching my sales rank on Amazon.  After the review of “A Mountain of Crumbs” in the New York Times Book Review, those numbers skyrocketed, which really means the opposite – they plummeted.  By Saturday night, I raced past Dostoyevsky.  By Sunday morning, I was beating the hell out of the complete works of Tolstoy that Amazon was giving away for 99 cents on Kindle. Solzhenitsyn with his Gulag was now in my wake.  Glued to the computer screen, I watched the numbers improve from 1,399 to 876 to 567 to 248 to 195.  In the intervals between the hourly updates (not to waste time) I googled myself and , among other things, found my book as part of the mandatory reading for a Canadian tour called “Reading Russia on the Trans-Siberian Express.”  “A Mountain of Crumbs” was in the company of Chekhov and Nabokov, next to Bulgakov’s “Master and Margarita.”  I checked Bulgakov on Amazon: “Master and Margarita,” the book so powerful the Soviets banned it, was ranked # 29,314.

Monday was my heavy teaching day, and I felt grateful that I wouldn’t have a minute free to spend in front of my computer.  I also had a suspicion that in a week, or a month, or several months if I’m lucky, things would go back to normal and my book would obediently line up behind Chekhov, Tolstoy, Nabokov, Dostoyevsky, and Bulgakov – way behind, where it belonged.