Women at Play and Libraries

In my previous blog I wrote about my best-known book, Women at Play: The Story of Women in Baseball, which is now available as an ebook.

First published twenty-five years ago by Harcourt, Women at Play went into a second printing, and then, eventually, it went out of print. But it has had a long and interesting life through baseball book collectors, through stores that sell used books, and also through libraries. I’m particularly fond of and amused by the way Women at Play has gone into libraries, out of them, and then back into them.

imagesWhen the book was first published, many, many libraries purchased copies, probably because Women at Play was the first book to present the history of women who played hardball. Soon, however, there were many more books on the subject. For at least ten years, though, I could find a copy of Women at Play in just about any library I visited almost anywhere in the country.

But just as libraries buy books, so they divest themselves of books due to limited shelf space and the need to buy new titles as they come out. Eventually Women at Play was taken out of some library collections. But libraries love books and would not destroy them — the library copies were either sold or donated and ended up online. If you typed “Women at Play” into Amazon, you could (and probably still can) choose from among five to ten online sellers . . . many of whom specified that the copy you would receive was an ex library book. Which is how I learned that libraries were taking Women at Play off their shelves.

But here’s the amusing thing. I intended to organize my thousands of pages of research notes on women in baseball and donate them to the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library. (See Cooperstown Bound: Third Time’s a Trip). Before I did that, though, I ended up publishing the public-domain part of my notes in a three-volume collection titled Research Notes for Women at Play. I published Volume I in 2010.

Perhaps because Research Notes was an unusual book, or perhaps because they remembered Women at Play, many libraries (both public and academic) purchased copies of Volume I.

The existence of Research Notes led to a renewed interest in Women at Play itself. And libraries that had divested themselves of the original title now ended up rebuying that title so that, in addition to having Volume I on hand, they could also have the actual work on hand. Because Women at Play was out of print, libraries ended up buying used copies of it through Amazon and other venues. I like to think that somewhere, at least one library purchased back its own book.

There’s something about this circle of in-out-in that makes me smile.

Now I’m hoping that the existence of Research Notes on library shelves makes libraries want to buy the ebook edition of Women at Play.



To purchase the 25th anniversary edition of Women at Play: The Story of Women in Baseball, click here.

Coming Up Tails: The 99-Cent Ebook

BookCover5_5x8_5_Jack and Larry-FINAL-FINALI did not venture into self-publishing in order to sell my ebooks for 99 cents. Which does not mean that I sell my ebooks for $14.95, or even for $9.99. Instead, I price them between $2.99 and $4.99, which I consider a low cost for the reader and a fair income for the writer.

I do not churn out novels, I do not churn out nonfiction. (I used to churn butter on my aunt and uncle’s farm, but that’s another story.) My books are researched, written and rewritten, critiqued by peers, and rewritten. Then they’re rewritten again, until the story is tight, logical, dramatic, and told in the best language I can write. It is difficult for me to put a 99-cent price on such work.


People are attracted to 99-cent ebooks. (Some people may be attracted to only 99-cent ebooks, but that, too, is another story.) The price is an eye-catcher. The price says, What’ve You Got to Lose? Buy Me, Baby!

Never did I think I would sell one of my ebooks for 99 cents. But now I’m selling one for just that amount.


Image 4In order to honor Jack Graney, who is one of the ten finalists for the Ford Frick Award given by the National Baseball Hall of Fame (see Jack Graney and the Broadcasting Dawn Era), I gave a lot of thought to lowering the price of my 2012 book, Jack and Larry, from $3.99 to 99 cents. Doing so might give more people an opportunity to read the heartwarming story of Jack, Larry, the Cleveland major league team of the 1910s, and the long pursuit of the pennant.

Should I? Shouldn’t I? Would lowering the price to 99 cents, even temporarily, cheapen the public’s perception of the book’s worth? Back and forth I went, back and forth.


Finally, I flipped a coin.


Larry had a tail!

JackLarryCircleIt wagged when he was happy.

Taking this as a sign, I have lowered the price of Jack and Larry to 99 cents, from now through December 9, 2015 — that’s the day the National Baseball Hall of Fame will announce the recipient of the 2016 Ford Frick Award.

If 99-cent ebooks attract you, consider this limited-time opportunity to add Jack and Larry to your e-reader.