Locus Focus: Take Seventy-Two!
This month's theme feels like a survey on Family Fortunes: "We asked 100 people to name a place where you can find books . . ." I'm sure the top answer would have been a library, which we covered last week with Beauty and Beast. Today, we have what would likely be the second most popular answer. (And after this, I'll just have to scramble around for two more . . .)
Remember that you may grab the badge from the sidebar and write your own Locus Focus post at any time. =)
Fox & Sons Books
You've Got Mail
You've Got Mail
"I sell cheap books. Sue me."
It's easier to find images of the other bookstore in the movie You've Got Mail--which isn't surprising. The small, cozy, indie Shop Around The Corner is a sentimental, nostalgic dream. Fox & Sons Books is the big, bad corporate Goliath threatening to huff and puff and blow the little David down. (I couldn't decide between the two allusions, so I just used them both.) Besides, most viewers would already know what a mega bookstore looks like; but every small, privately-owned shop is its own little revelation.
So as much as I'd like to say I support my local indie book seller, my own six-word memoir of the day seems to be: I buy cheap books. Sue me.
I appreciate these big chain stores, their deliberately impersonal atmosphere, and their economies of scale. I like taking my time wandering through a store without feeling pressured to make a purchase (an impression I never took away from an indie book shop--although, granted, I've only been to a handful), and I especially love the various promos that let me get extra discounts on brand new books that are already at their most competitive price. But now . . . I kind of feel bad about it.
Last month, I had to review In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan for one of the magazines I write for, and while I was reading it, I was struck by all the parallels we could draw between what we feed our bodies and what we feed our minds. And when I was typing up the previous paragraph of this post, Pollan's message that food is too important to be quick and cheap suddenly doubled as a message that books are too important to be quick and cheap. But if small business bookstores were the norm, books would be too expensive to be so mediocre.
Well, yes, in that ideal world we'd still have some answer to the penny dreadfuls: every generation does. But I'm starting to think ours is the first one virtually swimming in them. Manuscripts no longer have to be really good to be published; they just have to be really profitable. And although the two qualities are not mutually exclusive, I can't believe how bad so many releases of the last ten years are.
Being surrounded by thousands of crisp, new, sweet smelling books stops being such a heady experience when about 80% of them aren't worth the perfumy paper they were printed on.
Image Source: Fox & Sons Books