A late-night internet conversation between The Author in Atlanta and her daughter, Molly Samuel, in San Francisco:
11/1/06 10:04 pm EST / 7:04 PST
SUBJ: check Powells bestsellers
you're number three right now
SUBJ: selling better than Barack Obama
but behind richard dawkins
I'm ahead of Monty Python!!!
This is fantastic news!
But it says it changes hourly.
I don't want it to change.
If you have quick turnaround with your website guy, you could probably make it link to Powell's and help keep your numbers up there.
I already link to Powells.
In solidarity with you and Powells, I just ordered four books for myself from their website.
None of them was yours, I'm sorry.
YOU BOUGHT SOMETHING OTHER THAN MY BOOK FROM POWELLS???
Not to worry, I just bought my own book from Powells.
But not for myself; for a silent auction in Laguna Beach, CA, to benefit medical services in Ethiopia. They've been asking for a book.
Asking and asking.
None of the four I bought has a chance of competing with you as a bestseller.
I'm still number three.
I don't think they ARE recounting every hour, do you?
I hope they NEVER recount.
Now I really have to go to bed.
Adieu! Adieu! (I'm going to start saying "adieu" to my minions of fans.)
I could buy your book from Powells. I'll buy one for Dean.
I didn't go to bed yet.
Why don't I treat Dean to a book from Powells???
I'm very excited.
This is my first (and perhaps last) bestselling moment.
OK, you can buy him one...
His address is 68.... San Francisco, California...
I'm also getting totally obsessed with this. I'm checking Powell's again and again instead of making dinner.
On second thought, I don't want Powells to see that I keep buying my own book.
You buy it for him, from you, and I'll transfer $30 into your account.
Right, they'll certainly think it's a scam. OK, I'll buy it right now. Do you want me to include a note from you or from me?
and from Bank of America.
Do you think it's going to slip in 11 minutes, at the top of the hour?
Should I go to bed first?
I'll check in 11 minutes. I bet it won't change since it's late and probably not that many people are buying anything right now.
it's not late in Portland.
yes, but it's dark there, and I'm sure everyone has gone to bed.
hey, I'm outselling the hell out of Dave Eggers. You know his new book is about Africa? It's fiction, about Sudan.
Well, I'm outselling him THIS hour anyway.
Yeah, take that, you simultaneous book about Africa.
I am having a touch of difficulty transferring $30 from my account into yours inasmuch as my balance is $9.17.
Ah, the life of the bestselling author.
Should I transfer $30 to your account so you can pay for the book you just ordered for the group in Laguna Beach?
No, I just transferred $50 to you.
$30 for Dean.
And $20 just because.
Not just because I'm a bestselling author.
Just because I transferred it from Daddy's account.
I just bought your book for Dean. Take that, Dave Eggers and Barack Obama.
Please thank Dad for the part he's (I'm sure unwittingly, since he's probably asleep) done to keep you there for one more hour.
SUBJ: AM I STILL A BEST-SELLING AUTHOR?
I can't stand it.
8:01 here; you're still number three.
And it probably hasn't even processed my order for Dean yet!
Or my order for the philanthropists of Laguna Beach.
NOW I'll go to bed.
But this is so much fun.
What if this is THE high point of the book???
oh gosh, well, THAT wasn't such a happy thought.
But this is fun to share with you!!
I know! Checking to see if you've written back is just as exciting as checking to see if you're still number 3.
I AM going to bed now.
Which I will do, confident that you, my dear, will keep vigilant watch through the night, rousing your housemates, neighbors, and colleagues, if need be, in the small hours of the morning, to rush to their computers to make purchases, in case my book begins to slip.
What if people suddenly want to read someone's addiction memoir?
What if they wonder just what heaven is really like and whether a loved one can return for just one day?
Like a lonely lighthouse you stand, keeping watch, keeping watch.
I'll kick Eggers in the shins if he gets near you.
12:01 AM 11/2/06 EST/ 9:01 PM PST
Subject: YOU'RE NUMBER 2 at 9:00
Survival of the fittest, Richard Dawkins!
2:01 AM EST/ 11:01 PM PST
Subject: still number 2 at 11
Mom, if I don't get any sleep tonight, it is all your fault.
11/2/06 7:15 a.m.
SUBJ: still number two
I just told Daddy and he said, "What about other online sellers?"
"I said I'm not TALKING about other online sellers. It's Powells! I love Powells. I'm going to buy all our books from Powells."
And he said: "Well, don't buy too many or you'll push your book out of second place."
I told Lily that I was number two on Powells.com and she said, "What's in first place?"
I told Jesse and he said, "What's number one?"
What is it with these people? I only want to talk to YOU about it. Powells.com. Our secret love. See you tonight.