Neil Clarke

The Award-Winning Editor of Clarkesworld Magazine, Forever Magazine, The Best Science Fiction of the Year, and More

All Good Things…

I started Clarkesworld Books seven years ago and each year, it has outperformed the prior year.  I’m the only employee, but the store uses my home as its storage space, so in effect my wife and kids are honorary staff.  I couldn’t ask for a more supportive team.

A few weeks ago, we found out that we’re expecting our third child.  Life takes these little unexpected turns every now and then.  This particular one requires living space and that space is currently occupied by a bookstore that has nowhere else to go.  After much consideration, I’m sad to say that I’m going to be closing the store.  I’ve considered all the options and this is the one that makes the most sense for my soon to be expanding family.  If you know how much this business has meant to me, you know this wasn’t an easy decision. 

I owe a lot to everyone that has supported us over the years.  I feel a bit like I’m letting people down, but this is something I have to do.  Family comes first.  Clarkesworld is not big enough to take on the staff we’d need to continue (babies need time), and I certainly can’t afford the cost of rent here in NJ.  My wife will also need my help to keep her (more profitable) business going.

Everyone who has a preorder in with us will receive their books, but I’ll probably stop taking more preorders in the next week or so.  The website will continue to be maintained and I will take orders for in-stock books for as long as it takes to sell them all off. There will be many bargains to be had.

Some of you are probably wondering what this will do to Clarkesworld Magazine.  None of the reasons for closing the store apply to the magazine.  I have every intention of keeping the magazine going and quite probably taking advantage of a few other related opportunities that are presenting themselves. 

Running the store has been a personally rewarding experience.  I’ve met many new friends over the years and never ceased to be amazed by how good some people were to us. Thanks to all of you from all of us. 

Sincerely,

Neil Clarke
Clarkesworld Books : www.clarkesworldbooks.com 
Clarkesworld Magazine : www.clarkesworldmagazine.com 

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68 Comments

  1. Good luck to you and yours, sir.

  2. New baby or bookstore… touch choice. ;D I’m really sorry to hear the store is closing, but congrats on your third child! I think you’re making the right decision, and I’m glad to hear that the magazine will continue.

    • Yeah, on one hand I have to kill something I’ve worked on for 7 years. On the other, a person I’ll be working on for the rest of my life. Hmmm… Several years from now I will guilt this child into working on the replacement bookstore they owe me. Then all will be forgiven. 🙂

  3. best of luck to you man. it’s a decision i can understand.

  4. Congratulations on the forthcoming addition to the family.

    I’ve watched too many people tip towards the “work” side of the work/life dichotomy, and it’s generally not pleasant.

    You’ve clearly got your priorities in good order, and I wish you all the best.

    • Thanks! I already learned my lesson about work vs life the hard way. Even knowing what had to be done, this wasn’t easy. I suspect that I’ll still do some bookselling on the side at cons and on EBay (I certainly have the inventory for it) but it won’t be the same. In the end, I’m sure I’ll be happier… just not right now.

  5. Neil, it’s been great working with you. I wish you and your family the best of luck.

  6. Best of luck in the future Neil, and thanks for carrying ASIM all these years.

    I’m sure this was a major decision, but it’s great to hear the mag will keep the Clarkesworld name going.

    • Thanks! I don’t know how I’m going to keep up with my magazine habit now. I’ve always enjoyed ASIM and hope that you can get a few more folks carrying it out here. If there is EVER anything I can do to help, don’t hesitate to write me.

      • Thanks Neil. Maybe short fiction reviews in Clarkesworld will have everyone sending you free copies? Lots of work though.

        • Try as I might, I can’t write a decent review. I’ll have more time to learn though. 🙂

          • You can start with ‘This sucked’, ‘not too bad’ and ‘I quite liked it’ and move up from there 😉

  7. Congrats on the new bub! I’m sorry to hear about the store, but it’s good to know you plan on keeping the mag going.

  8. Congratulations on your growing family, and commiserations on the decision to give up the store. Wish you the best of luck.

  9. I have to say I’m saddened by the news, but it sounds like you’re making the right decision. The online book world won’t be the same without you, Neil.

    • Thank you! Maybe I’ll be able to come back someday and put to use some of the lessons I’ve learned. Of course, by then, there may only be one bookstore left in the world. 🙂

  10. Congrats on the addition to your family. Too bad about the store–it was doing the industry a wonderful service. But I understand your reasons, of course. Good luck.

    • Thanks. I’m certainly going to miss it, especially the magazine side of the store. I’ve been looking for someplace to fill my habit. Won’t be able to afford subscriptions to everything, so I need a place with back issues. If you know of any, let me know!

  11. I felt my heart sink as I read this…and then caught myself and realized that congratulations on your new baby are in much better order. So, congratulations, Neil, and I’m going to try to hit more of those in-stock titles. Thanks for everything!

    • Well, it’s easily going to take a few months to make a dent in the inventory, so you’ll have plenty of time to pick stuff up, unless it’s popular and goes in the first wave. 🙂 Thanks! It’s been fun and I will miss it.

  12. I will miss Clarkesworld Books, but Clarkesworld the family is a wonderful tradeoff. Congratulations! I’ll do my best to help clear out the existing stock…

    • Thank you! It may not have been what I planned (in so many ways) but it’s definitely the right thing and hey, I’ll have another kid to take care of me in my old age. 🙂

  13. While I’m happy for you in the sense of your family circumstances, I have to say that I’m sincerely sorry to hear that the store will be closing – there are so few enthusiastic and knowledgeable people in this corner of the business who are left batting. Every one who leaves is a loss.

    But although you will indubitably be missed, I wish you all the best in whatever future endeavours you choose to take part in.

    • Thank you very much. I’m hoping to find some way to stay connected to the industry. It’s been fun and I have a hard time detaching entirely. Here’s hoping that a few new booksellers enter the fray. I need a good place to get my books & magazines and I’ll be damned if I turn to Amazon.

  14. Sorry to hear it, though big congrats on the baby!

  15. Best of luck and congrats; I will miss the bookstore though.

  16. Congratulations! I’m amazed by how hard this whole work/life balance is, but it sounds like you are making the right choice.

  17. Congrats, Neil. And like everyone else, I’ll be sorry to see the store go. I hope you’ll still manage to sneak off to readercon in the summers! *g*

    • Oh, I’ll be there. Readercon is too much fun. Besides, I have a magazine to push and LOADS of books that I’ll be selling off forever. With any luck, I’ll actually have a table there. Fingers crossed.

  18. Well, heck. All of your other well-wishers have beaten me to the punch.

    So I’ll be repetitive. Congratulations on child number three! And while I’ll be sad to see the bookstore disappear, I certainly understand.

    I’ll be mailing the signed copies of GQ back to you on Monday or Tuesday, by the way. Thanks!

    • I’ve been describing this to my wife as a funeral, or perhaps a wake would be better. Everyone stopping in to say sorry and congratulations, a bit of an odd mix, but it’s nice to hear from people and a bit hard at the same time.

      Thanks!

  19. What a one-two punch! Congratulations and, yet – bummer!

    You’re priorities are totally in the right place, Neil. I tip my hat.

    • Yeah, it seems that each time I have a kid, I get punched. You’d think that would be suitable birth control by now, wouldn’t you? No regrets with the first two, so I’m figuring on a clean sweep… and then NO MORE. 🙂

      • Well, you might as well have more, since you’ve already committed the crucial tactical error in the Art of War and Parenting:

        “Never let them outnumber you.”

        😉

  20. sad news and happy news!
    (but i believe the happy outweighs the sad, non?)
    and now maybe you’ll finally be able to start hitting necon!

    • Necon may still be off the list for a couple years. It’s scheduled too close to Readercon (if I recall correctly) and that’s a must-go con for me. Taking two weekends away and leaving Lisa (very pregnant by then) with the two boys could be a recipe for divorce.

  21. So sad to see the bookstore go, but such happy news about the new baby.

  22. Thanks! Who knows, I might even have time to make more of those meetings now.

  23. Congrats…and better you than me. 😉

    • I’m sorry about the store, but congratulations on the reason!

    • I sort of figured you’d have that reaction. 🙂

      • Well, y’know, my feelings are always very mixed when friends tell me they’re expecting. Happy for them, of course, but sort of disappointed because there goes another one. People’s lives and priorities change when they have kids…which is as it should be, but it also means that we pretty much don’t see them after the birth, or if we do it’s usually rare because of the difficulty of finding sitters. (And we try to avoid hanging out with parents in the presence of their kids because, at least when they’re small, it’s pretty well impossible to have an adult conversation.)

        Of course, our living 200 miles away is probably a bigger factor in why we’ve seen you guys once in the last 7 years, so I’m less disappointed in your case. 🙂

        Still, I’ll be happy when all our friends’ kids hit their teen years and decide they don’t want to hang out with their parents!

        • Yeah, but we’re already down that road. It’s rough the first few months, but we have two sets of grandparents nearby who think it’s important to help us get a child-free night out for dinner every now and then. I think we can make the time for you guys should you brave the trip again. 🙂

          Oh and kids decide they need time away from parents too. They start practicing for their teens much earlier than you might think.

        • Neil’s right – I’ve gone whole WEEKENDS without seeing the boys sometimes, and we’re all in the same house 😉

          Ok, that’s a *bit* of an exaggeration, but they so seem to have a way of finding their own things to keep them busy. Let’s hope #3 entertains itself equally as well. I make a lousy cruise director.

          Lisa

  24. Family comes first. You did right, Neil. I expect it was hard as hell, but best of luck to you man. Get some sleep, babies are a lot harder on your head than backorders.

    • Especially when you have a history of kids with colic. Two for two, god help us if it’s three for three.

  25. Congrats on the news! I’m upset though, hopefully in the future the webshop will be back! 😉

    • Thanks! It’s possible in a few years, but there will be a few requirements that would have to be met first, like storage, someone to do the packing, and a chance of it making money. 🙂 I certainly loved doing it (ok, not the packing)

  26. Congratulations! And thanks for all good work.

  27. Anonymous

    Sad to hear about the closing. Good to hear about the baby

    A completely understandable choice. Good luck and thanks for the great service in the years before.

  28. Sorry to hear that, Neil, but it sounds like this is something you’ve thought through every way. I’m glad the magazine will survive.

    • Yeah, I spent the last couple of weeks thinking about it from every possible angle and this is the right thing to do. Fortunately it’s just an emotional loss and not a financial one. The job I don’t like is the one that pays the bills. 🙂

  29. Congratulations on your new addition! Also, thank you for the best service I have recieved ever on an online site.

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