Monday, March 27, 2006

Return of the Living Dead

I’m back, and it’s Smart Bitches Day (which I’ll get to later, after work. I swear. Don’t look at me like that). The theatre was good, as was the chaperoning of dozens of high school students (you didn’t think I got to go see plays for free, did you?), but I came back slightly exhausted and reminded that high school angst is like no other angst in the world.

Crazy.

In my absence many wonderful things happened:

  • You all were having an informative debate on the future of the audio book, and I really like what I’m reading, so please continue.

  • My fangirl squeeing about Christopher Moore converted another reader (I suggest following up with Lamb and Fluke, Nicole, although Minty Fresh shows up first in Coyote Blue and the Mysterious Redhead is from Bloodsucking Fiends), thus reaffirming that my evil plan to turn Moore into the Tom Robbins of my generation is working (if only in my mind).

  • I got a link to this song and music video from Beth and I may now be in love with Lemon Demon (the report remains unconfirmed at this time). Anything where Bill and Ted make a cartoon cameo has to be good.

  • Publishers realize what I’ve been saying all along because, ya know, it all revolves around me. (Hmm, maybe I did spend a little too much time with those teenagers.)

So until I come back to dazzle y’all with my comparisons between Wilde’s fluff satire The Importance of Being Ernest and the life and times of Historical/Regency romance I ask you to ponder this completely unrelated topic:

We’ve all heard a variation of “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach/write/fill in the blank,” but recently I’ve also heard this:

Those who can, write/publish. Those who can’t, sell books.

So writers out there, do you think we booksellers are all wannabe writers? And booksellers, are we all wannabe writers? And if we are, would this represent a conflict of interest? The idea of booksellers can be extended to publishers as well (as y’all sell books at that much higher level).

I’m interested in your thoughts.

9 comments:

Eileen said...

The booksellers I've met aren't interested in being writers. I think they find us writers to be mildly amusing and neurotic in what is sometimes a charming way. The few that I know personally are huge lovers of books and reading. They love making that connection for others. No conflict of interest- more of a sharing of interests.

Anonymous said...

Huh, interesting concept. Makes me wonder if it was one of those 'holier than thou because I've been published' types who assume that anyone working in a book related field must want to write. No, if anything I'd have to say they'd be frustrated editors/publishers, not frustrated writers.

Like I said though, interesting concept. Are there any booksellers that want to be writers? I think it would be interesting to see how they look at the art of selling books from a writer's perspective (or do they?).
Gari

tem2 said...

Yikes! That's like saying that anyone who works at Walmart is only there because the Indonesian sweatshops weren't hiring.

jmc said...

Your fangirl squee converted a second reader, too -- I read Fluke over the weekend and posted about it :) Then I went and bought a copy of A Dirty Job.

lady t said...

I think wannabe writers tend to be teachers generally speaking-most of the booksellers I worked with had many aspirations but writing wasn't really one of them.

That said,I'm trying to write a book now,which doesn't negate my theory since I'm not working for a bookstore now...atleast that's what my inner front of logic deems to be true:)

Shanna Swendson said...

Most of the booksellers I've known are just people who love books. They may harbor fantasies of writing one someday (just as almost everyone who loves books does), but they certainly haven't cornered me to tell me all about that novel they're going to write someday.

I have known some writers -- published ones, even -- who have had to take on a salaried job to make ends meet from time to time, and they choose to work in bookstores because that's a field they know.

And I think there's a quota system for the chain superstores and some independents where they each have to hire one guy (and it's almost always a guy) who makes sure everyone knows that he's just working in that store while he finishes either his MFA in creative writing or the Great American Novel. That guy tends not to last long, perhaps because he has a bad habit of sneering at customers who dare to purchase something not written by Proust, Sartre or Kerouac. I kind of like these guys because they're fun to play with. There was one in my neighborhood store who just about had a stroke when I came to the checkout with a stack of chick lit or romance novels, and he'd ask, "You read this stuff?" I'd cheerfully declare that I wrote this stuff. That's when he'd feel the need to tell me that he was a writer, too -- a real writer. So I'd cheerfully ask what he'd written and who his publisher was. That resulted in some stammering because he hadn't actually written anything to submit to a publisher, which then gave me the fun parting shot of mentioning offhand when my next book would be coming out. He's not there anymore, so either he got the MFA or his manager overheard him and decided that denigrating customers' purchases wasn't good business practice. The rest of the store's staff is really cool, so they could have ganged up against him when they got tired of him. I kind of miss him. If he was working the cash register, I'd find the fluffiest, girliest books to buy so I could watch the veins on his forehead pop out.

(And yeah, this does make me sound like I think I'm holier than thou for being published, but if you're going to imply that you're a real writer and I'm not, you'd better have a book on the shelf to back it up.)

china said...

I'm a bookseller. I'm a writer.

It only seems natural to me to work around what I love--books (and if you're a writer who doesn't love to read, you're probably not a good writer).

But I don't work as a way to tide myself over until I get published. I work as a bookseller because I love it. There's nothing better than discovering a new (to you) book and then finding other people who will enjoy reading it.

Bookselling is an art in itself and I would only consider it related to my writing in that they both stem from my love of reading.

Okay, I have no idea if any of that made sense.

Lisa Hunter said...

Video clerks and wannabe screenwriters -- that's almost 100 percent correlation.

But booksellers? I think they're most likely to be READERS. In other words, we writers depend on them in every way!

Allison Brennan said...

Interesting question . . . my first job was in a bookstore. I was 15. I loved it. I wanted to be a writer, even back then, but life intervened and it took another 15 and some years to pursue the dream.

In my local favorite bookstore, I know many of the staff by name (this is a major chain bookstore)--probably 12 people who I've spoken with. Of them, two definitely want to be writers and are actively writing in their free time. The others just love books. And a couple, it's just a job.