NEW YORK (Billboard) - Label executives occasionally write books about the record business, but it's far rarer to see someone from music retailing knock out a tome about record stores.
But that's what Amoeba Music co-founder Yvonne Prinz has done. She hasn't written a business book but rather a teen-targeted novel, "The Vinyl Princess," due December 22 from HarperCollins.
The book centers on a 16-year-old girl, Allie, who works at a struggling music store called Bob and Bob Records and has a passion for collecting vinyl.
The book "is like 'High Fidelity' for teens -- that's the story I started out to write," Prinz says, referring to the 1995 Nick Hornby novel about a London record store owner. "Nobody has the inside track of working on a record store like I do. I felt very qualified to write this book."
She may have a point. First, she boasts an enviable music-retailing pedigree, having co-founded Amoeba in 1990 with her husband, David Prinz; Marc Weinstein; and Mike Boyder. Today, Amoeba is one of independent music retailing's most beloved chains, with California locations in Berkeley, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Prinz is also the author of Raincoast Books' Clare tween novel series, which includes "Still There, Clare," "Not Fair, Clare" and "Double Dare Clare." She signed a two-book deal with HarperCollins for "The Vinyl Princess" and another book, "All You Get Is Me," about a girl who moves with her dad to an organic farm.
Although the publisher wanted the latter book first, "I thought the vinyl book should hit now, and they let me have it this way," Prinz says. "The timing was good because a lot of cool bands are putting their stuff out on vinyl now."
To write "The Vinyl Princess," Prinz says she drew upon her five years of experience working as a cashier at the original Amoeba store on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley. Like "High Fidelity," Prinz's book tries to capture the feel of an indie record store, including colorful neighborhood personalities based on the customers who came to shop at Amoeba. "Berkeley has an incredible street scene, homeless scene and drug scene," Prinz says, noting that they all found their way into Amoeba and informed her book.
Now that she's written a novel about a teenage vinyl collector, what does she think about the resurgence of the format? "People are going back into stores," albeit not in huge numbers, she says, noting that Amoeba is "not counting on vinyl to save the store. We have always sold vinyl, and their sales haven't increased for us."
To help promote the book, Prinz has assumed the identity of the Allie character at TheVinylPrincess.com, where she blogs as her book's protagonist. Most of the blog posts are reviews of vintage albums like "The Velvet Underground and Nico" and the Byrds' "Mr. Tambourine Man."
One post from earlier this year was titled "And Now a Word About Censorship," featuring Prinz/Allie railing against Walmart for not carrying Green Day's "21st Century Breakdown." The Vinyl Princess blogged: "That Walmart would suggest to a recording artist that they require them to edit the content of their art in order for it to be acceptable in their soulless mega-monster stores, which profit off the backs of slave labor in developing countries, is beyond absurd."
That wasn't quite a fair criticism of Walmart, which doesn't ask artists to change their lyrics but maintains a policy of not carrying CDs that come with warning stickers. When this is pointed out to Prinz, she responds, "But I am writing as a 16-year-old girl who hates the corporate world."
(Editing by SheriLinden at Reuters)