By Stephanie V. Siek
Globe Staff | June 24, 2007
Alex Green is no stranger to the long shot.
He started his bookstore, Back Pages Books in Waltham, after graduating from Brandeis University, despite everyone telling him the independent bookstore was a dying breed. Two years later, the store is still here, and Green has begun a campaign challenging the idea that a book needs a recommendation from Oprah Winfrey and a display at Barnes & Noble to be successful.
Launching what it calls The 1001 Book Project, Back Pages Books is relying not on a massive publicity engine or a huge chain of stores, but on old-fashioned word-of-mouth among its fiercely loyal patrons, to sell 1,001 copies of a local author's book.
The project aims to sell out local author Jon Papernick's first novel, selling one more than the 1,000-book first printing by his Canadian publisher, Exile Editions. Back Pages has the exclusive right to sell Papernick's book in the United States -- until, at least, the project succeeds in attracting an American publisher. The 346-page book, which has a $26.95 list price, will sell for $21.50 at Back Pages.
"If I can prove to a publisher that a 1,000-square-foot bookstore in a suburb of Boston can presell an entire print run before it's released, then maybe American publishers will take a second look," said Green. "Maybe they look at it and say that maybe if 1,000 people want [a book] from this small bookstore, then maybe thousands of people across the country will buy it."