Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Shrinking the Bookstore

American consumers tend to develop an internal Bullshit Detector. It's a bit like a Geiger counter, ticking an alert in the presence of marketing hooey. My detector was set wildly clacking away this afternoon when I visited Borders Books downtown. They're rearranging the first floor and adding a few comfy couches -- and losing, I estimate, over two hundred feet of shelf space in the process. What got me was the signage: "In Order To Serve You Better...". There were other words after these first six, but I couldn't concentrate on them over the staccato sounds of my Bullshit Detector on high alert. Because I can just imagine all the ways in which cutting their stock by over a thousand volumes in my preferred genre is Serving Me Better. Not to mention all the ways in which radically reduced shelf space will Serve my eventual writing career Better.

And, a sign that they're not Serving Me Better: I was looking for two books, neither of which is particularly obscure, and they didn't have either on the shelf. I'm looking forward to hearing Borders officers complain about lagging sales, with confused expressions on corporate leaders' faces, unable to understand why people are buying fewer books. Maybe they'll try to blame The Economy, or The Internet....

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