The Science Fiction Genre has been a hot topic on the interwebs these last few days. To catch you up:
First we have io9s Why Science Fiction Still Hates Itself--a look at science fiction shows on tv and their attempts to distance themselves from their genre.
Next we have a the SF Signal's response in Fear and Loathing in Science Fiction.
SF Signal follows up with a round up of links and an overview on the Borders' decision not to stock as many Scifi authors and titles in Do You Care if Borders Doesn't Stock All Science Fiction Books?.
Here is my take on the Borders decision: SciFi probably isn't the only section affected. Their new concept stores are based on the idea of fewer titles to allow for more face outs. More face outs means a better chance at that title catching a browser's eye, but it also means there is not as much shelf space for other titles and authors, especially stock that may run one or two books per store.
This doesn't stop people from special ordering a book for in store pick up. I've read that booksellers are saying they can't order the books in, but personally, I read that as booksellers can't order books in to put on the shelves. If you want a Tobias Buckell title, they can special order it for you in the store or you can set it up via their website. If they show a high number of special orders then they might change their mind about a particular title. I could be wrong--I have been before and will be again--and these titles might not show up even on the website, but it is worth a try.
And is there a moratorium against ordering SciFi on all the stores? That depends on the management. If you've got a bookseller who thinks they can really hand-sell a title, it’s up to the manager whether or not they order in the book be it from the warehouse or from Partners West, etc. While big box stores don't specialize to the level of the independents you do have to know your customer base. We were crazy about ordering specifically for our clientele at my old store, and we had the sales numbers to back it up.
Borders is making a business decision, but if a particular store can prove the stock is necessary to not miss out on the business (e.g. you are the Borders in Gregory Frost's home town), then an argument could be made to stock a title or author on a case by case basis. Lord Tophet, for example, is available on the Borders website.
This is not a defense of the Borders decision, so much as a perspective. Do I agree with the decision? Not in the way it has been phrased, a bookstore is there to sell books, and the best bookstores know their customers. As a company Borders has a tendency to forget that by simplifying everything down to price per item, upselling at the register, and other numbers that forget about the very human aspect of bookselling. The best booksellers are people who love books and know how to talk books to other people. The best booksellers have titles that they would walk across hot coals to hand-sell--to convert the non-reader to whatever the bookseller loves.