Sunday, April 10, 2005


I went into a dollar store (for my overseas pals, this is a shop where everything costs $1) to get Kath chenille stems. She's recently become obsessed with making tissue-paper flowers, and she goes through about 100 a week. I, being EconoMom, buy a lot of stuff like that at the dollar store.

Next to the rack of crafty things I saw shelves of books. Yes, I always look to see who lands there. Usually it's lousy bios about people you never heard of (The Astonishing Life of Josephine CrawFish), lousy self-helpers (Free Yourself from Lunch Meat Dependency 4-Ever!) or lousy inspirational (Blessed Mother Appeared on My Grilled Cheese, and Other Collected Stories.)

Not so this time. I saw a stack of hardcover novels written by an author I know among the Remaindered Remainders. I knew the novel, too. Major imprint. Everyone had been talking about this one when it hit the shelves. This same book placed very high up in four major genre awards.

Major-major awards. Just three years ago, when it came out in print.

I don't read this author, for reasons that would only identify the author if I elaborated, but seeing it there made me angry. Blood-in-eye, steam-from-ears furious, in fact. I cleared off the shelf, lugged all eleven copies to the cashier and bought the lot. $11.00 for what should have cost me $263.45.

Totally irrational purchase, I know. This is a national chain dollar store, so there are probably a thousand copies out there in one-buck land. It was a knee-jerk reaction, I guess. I don't know about you, but the last place I want to see books by an author I know -- whether I like him/her or not -- is at the damn dollar store.

I went from there to the real book store and went up and down the aisles, militantly facing out novels by every writer I know. I was there for a good hour, rearranging stock. While I was, I handsold two other authors' books to ladies in the romance and mystery sections. I was so mad I was about ready to apply for a job just so I could get onto the floor and really work it.

Before I threw in the towel on being an author to become a bookseller, I made myself leave. I believe the clerks started popping the champagne soon as I left.

I understand that books eventually have to be remaindered. That the remainders are then sold in lots to the highest bidder. I know a book is a product, and publishing is a business, and whatever publishers can recover to balance out their losses can only be a good thing for everyone involved.

My head tells me not to get angry. My heart refuses to listen.

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