Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A sip or two to hold you over (or columns I’ve thought about but have yet to write)

So I thought I should make it clear that I don’t blog at work. At all. Ever.

I don’t have computer access, and I don’t have time. If I’m bored it’s not because I don’t have something to do, it’s that I just can’t seem to get up the energy to climb a ladder.

This is not a complaint, but an explanation. I wouldn’t blog at work even if I had the access. The only reason I would be tempted to log in at work at all would be to post book links. In fact, in the year and a half that I’ve had this blog, I’ve only ever walked my self over to the Apple store (the land o’ internet access) three or four times to check my emailed comments. The first two times because I was caught up in the flush of “Oh My Gaaawd! People are actually commenting” and the last two because I wanted to make sure no comment fights were going on while I was at work. Not that I could have done anything about them as Apple blocks blogger, but I could have composed my response.

Which is, perhaps, the only thing I do that is blog related at work: I run over topics and responses in my mind as I help people. It doesn’t affect my job too much because my ability to keep a train of thought going for longer than two or three minutes is shot to hell, which brings me to one of the first topics I would like to talk about at some point:

Don’t ever judge a bookstore by how they are at Christmas, it’ll earn you a beat down in the Children’s section.

Other topics I’ve considered and plan on writing about at some point:

1. Selling In The Gray: my own thoughts on the state of the chain store existence and new ideas on how Indies fit in. Areas of interest coved within said column will be: ordering systems, calling ahead, why authors (sadly) often have to present Photo ID, the futures of B. Daltons and Waldenbooks, the small store customer service vs. superstore selection, and anything else that comes up during this search. If I missed anything you want covered, let me know. Reasons why this isn’t up yet? The research monster owns my soul and I had a wee bit too much wine last night. (I refuse to drink and blog.)

Any current or former chain booksellers who want add their thoughts on this topic can email me at the address in the right hand column. I would greatly appreciate your perspectives.

2. The Proper Care and Feeding of Your Christmas Gift or How To Make That Book You Bought Aunt Marsha Look Spotless. This column would include special sidebar diatribes on why I hate, hate, haaaaate white covers on books and why parchment paper slip covers can go to the devil.

3. Focused Selling: Or Why You Should Make Airport Booksellers Your Best Friends. Think about it, how else are you going to get your book to go around the world in eighty days, go to areas it might not be represented in, be exposed to wildly different groups of people, and have a captive audience to sell to. Worship this people, they are your friends.

4. A discussion on this article (see below) highlighted in Shelf Awareness:

Notes: Black Fiction Sections; Iraq Study Group Report
In a cover story, today's Wall Street Journal looks at the ongoing dilemma about whether black writers benefit or not from having their books shelved in an African-American section, an issue given renewed attention because of the increased popularity of black fiction and the growth in spending on books by black readers. (Last year, blacks spent $300 million on books, twice as much as the early 1990s, according to Black Issues Book Review.)Some authors quoted in the story said that being in the black fiction section helped them connect with their most important audience. Others said they felt the practice limited their potential.One argument against black fiction sections: The story noted that "as a practical matter, segregating books by race and culture makes it less likely that black writers will hit the national bestseller lists."Barnes & Noble and are the major retailers that, with several exceptions, don't have African-American literature sections. B&N spokesperson Mary Ellen Keating told the paper that the company wants to expose "all titles to all customers."To give some perspective to the debate, consider the policy of one African-American bookstore. It shelves black fiction in its fiction section. "Caucasian" writers go in the ethnic fiction section.

(If someone could get me a copy of the actual Wall Street Journal article, I’d appreciate it. I don’t have a subscription, which (I believe) keeps me from logging onto the site. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.)

5. Some sort of riff on the ideas presented in this book, but involving only literary characters.

6. Cool stuff that I think you should buy friends and family for Christmas.

7. And so it will be part of the official list: Why You Should Never Judge A Bookstore By How It Is At Christmas.

So there you go, that’s what I’ve thought about at work (for the most part) over the last week or so. That’s what I’ve retained anyway; I’m really bad about writing any of this down so that it will stay with me longer than five seconds. I’m even worse about actually writing the columns when I get home (or get up the next morning) these days because my off-time is broken up into Christmas celebrations, family obligations, time with friends, community events and “reading to stay sane.” Hopefully this list of topics will help me get back on blogging schedule (and help breakup my current love affair with my snooze alarm), and I’ll gladly consider anything you wish to hear about as well.

So tell me, what (from the above list or from your own wonderings) do you want me to think about at work in the hopes that it will eventually make it onto the net?


BuffySquirrel said...

I remember years ago I bought my father a copy of UK LeGuin's The Dispossessed using Amazon and I never even saw the edition itself (Masterworks series) until weeks later. I was in a local bookshop, and I said "WOW!" because it had the most gorgeous cover. One of the booksellers told me the book was selling so well, it was "just falling off the shelf". I already had a copy, with a very different cover, and I was so tempted to buy another.

So I guess my question is, what makes books fall off the shelves, in your experience?

Robin Brande said...

BSC, first of all, glad to see you back and with a really long post. Ahhhh.

Second, love the preview list. I'm especially interested in whatever you want to say about authors coming to your store (calling ahead, presenting photo ID, etc.). Also interested in airport bookstores.

I was so sad to read that about white covers. My book is going to have a white cover. I know I can't keep anything white clean, but I was hoping I was alone. Sigh.

Monica said...

Check out my site for a link to the article. It's linked, not copied. Of course, if they tell me to pull it I will.

@#$&!)$! Durn greedy capitalists!