RARA-AVIS: Bookstores and Libraries

From: Kevin Burton Smith (kvnsmith@sbcglobal.net)
Date: 24 Nov 2008

  • Next message: harry.lerner@mail.mcgill.ca: "RE: RARA-AVIS: Hard Case Crime series"

    John wrote:

    > Yeah, B&N missed the Hard Case boat and only carry a select few from
    > name authors (hard to turn down the one from Stephen King, for
    > example).
    > I have three Borders within driving distance and all carry Hard
    > Case, though now it looks like each gets two copies of a title
    > rather than a more face-out-display-worthy three or five copies.
    > Not really a surprise there, I'm afraid. Borders is having an even
    > rougher time than most retailers these days.

    Due to short-sightedly investing too heavily in CDs and DVDs, apparently.

    But I digress...

    Chains like Borders and B&N aren't quite as monolithic as you think. Neither actually missed any HHC boat on a nationwide level. Many book buying decisions are made at local and regional levels -- often by the same people who may be ringing up your purchases or helping you find a book. Hell, I've short-listed titles myself.

    So if you don't see a book the next time you're at a bookstore, be it Books'r'Us or Fred's Books, just ask. If you don't see it, order it from them. If you have it delivered to the store, there are no S&H charges and you'll be helping employ people in your area. You can even do it before you go to the store. Enough people order it, they'll get the hint.

    We all love to tell tells of brain-dead bookstore workers and heartless chains, but beyond a certain level, most bookstore employees, even in big chains, do in fact love and care about books. Because we're sure not in it for the money or the regular abuse from customers.

    Our local has carried most of the HardCase Crimes, and they ordered extra for my mystery reading group.

    And Mr. T. wrote:

    > The argument that Constantine's Mad Russian makes is that each time
    > the book is borrowed he is losing royalties on a copy sold. I don't
    > know that there is a valid argument against this.

    Well, except that it's a lot of wishful thinking on Mr. Contantine's part. Someone could also read one of his books, and decide it's a piece of crap.

    And the money he expects from library lending has to come from somewhere. If not from book rentals or library memberships, then it would have to come from higher taxes. Which we all know Americans just love. "Money for books? But we need more prisons!!!!"

    And where does it stop? As MEH points out, when you sell off your rusted 1976 Gran Torino station wagon with the fake wood panelling, should Mr. Ford expect his slice?

    Is there any author out there who puts his money where his mouth is and refuses to sell to libraries? I've also heard authors bitch about used books. I heard about one author who railed so relentlessly about a well-known used mystery book dealer selling her wares that he decided to never carry her books again -- and the new mystery bookstore next door which had invited her to do a signing subsequently decided to never stock her again either.

    I actually discovered K.C. Constantine through a public library, and went on to buy several of his books. Maybe he should pay the Westmount Library a cut, instead of waiting around for his share.

    And Karin wrote:

    > The hole in his argument is that not everyone who borrows a book
    > would buy it, the same as not everyone who copies an album would buy
    > the album. They might easily live without it. On the other hand,
    > people exposed to certain authors through lending libraries might
    > eventually buy at least some of their books.

    There's also the important but often ignored point that many of those who frequent public and private libraries or used bookstores (like those who copy or illegally download music) are often some of the biggest consumers of new books. Yeah, I go to the library more than the average joe, but I'll I also have more books than the average joe. By far.

    And CDs, tapes and albums? Let's not go there....

    Kevin Burton Smith www.thrillingdetective.com

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