Thursday, December 29, 2005

A Bookstore Morality Tale

Once upon a time, in the good old days, bookstores put their favourite books in the windows, on the bookstore tables, and in their "recommended reading list" catalogues because the staff or the owners of the bookstore actually read those books and loved them. Nowadays, however, publishing companies pay the bookstores for the windows, tables, and catalogues. In politics this would be considered corruption. In publishing it is called marketing and promotions. Yes, bookstores sell the space in the window and on the tables and in their catalogues to whoever can afford it. This, of course, excludes all those who cannot, whether they be small publishers or small writers allotted small promotions budgets.

The delightful human defiance of this corporate practice is the "Staff Pick" label. Look out for it. This means someone has actually read the book, liked it, and is personally recommending it. And they haven't been bribed to do so!

And while I am at it, let's blow the whistle on bestseller lists. More often than not, these lists are invented by bookstores. If they have over-ordered books which are not selling, they will name them as bestsellers in the hopes of moving them along, as people like to follow trends. More often than not, this ploy is successful which is why bookstores continue to do it.

Ah, the perfidy of humanity.

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