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Over It: Bookish Conversations We Never Want to Have Again

10 November 2012

From BookRiot:

[A]fter many years of life in the bookish interweb, we’ve identified some conversations that just keep coming back up. And we’re ready to put an end to them. So pull on your crankypants, kids, and join editors Rebecca and Jeff for a good old-fashioned Airing of Grievances.


Rebecca Joines Schinsky: I’m just gonna come out with guns blazin’. I never want to hear another variation on, “Save this bookstore! Give them your dollars!” ever again. I love indie bookstores as much as the next girl, and I’m doing my part to keep my local’s doors open. I believe in voting with your wallet to support businesses you want to see stick around. But bookstore owners need to innovate and find new business models and ways to compete, and if they can’t, it shouldn’t fall to their customers to save them.

Jeff O’Neal: I agree—with a small qualifier. If a bookstore is looking for funds that will add or alter how they make money or that will reduce costs, I am more sympathetic. It’s the “give us money so we can keep doing things the same way,” I have a tough time being interested in. This also relates to the zero-sum game of giving: wouldn’t giving that money to beleaguered public libraries be money better spent? In the grand view of keeping books and reading supported?

. . . .


RJS: Since we’re on the subject of authority and gatekeepers…God, I don’t know if I even have anything interesting to say about this. I’m so over it. People can publish their own books. Some of them will be successful. Many of them will not. Traditional publishers will continue to offer services and tools (and, ahem, authority) individuals cannot afford on their own, and for that, many writers will resist self-publishing. The end.

JSO: The hand-wringing about self-publishing is so weird because self-publishing actually predated what we call publishing by a couple hundred years. The prohibition on “vanity” publishing is a relatively new idea, and one I’m glad to see go away. Unless self-published works are, in aggregate, so embarrassingly awful that everyone who reads one is so turned off that they never read another book again ever, I think it isn’t a threat to good writing and great stories. It might be a threat to the book publishing industry as we know it, but as I always say, the publishing industry is not the same thing as the “reading” industry.

Link to the rest at BookRiot

Bookstores, Self-Publishing

9 Comments to “Over It: Bookish Conversations We Never Want to Have Again”

  1. The movie You’ve Got Mail was based on an old movie Shop Around the Corner. Wow! That’s what her bookstore was called! Amazing.

    What I never understood was that Cute Blond Girl whose character name escapes me now (Meg Ryan) had a shelf of valuable used books. She’s on the internet, right?, getting mail, why didn’t she take that used book business online? Okay so the physical store is morte but she can still sell hardcovers. I did. Worldwide. Collectors seek out valuable old books.

    The movie is based on the 1937 Hungarian play set in Budapest and the characters have that mindset while they’re living in a modern New York City using computers.

    Cute movie, excellent dialog, but she deserved to lose her store and the fond memories of twirling just for being unable to keep up with progress.

    Remember the scene where the employee of Fox Books doesn’t know the “shoe” books? Noel Streatfeild is unknown, lost to the mists of time. That was realistic.

    Save your own bookselling business. Picketing Fox Books ain’t gonna help.

    • Barbara – not to be an annoying nitpicker, mind you.

      But in ‘You’ve Go Mail’ they were on AOL dialup. It started as a BBS that was a world onto itself. AOL may have been connected to the internet in later years, but it didn’t start out that way.

      I don’t recall people being able to start stores on AOL in the early years. I was never on AOL, I don’t know the details.

      We’ve gotten spoiled with all this ‘free access’ that doesn’t require a dialup connection. It’s hard to remember the early 90’s when dialup and AOL ruled.

      • Okay. They were on dialup. There were no other alternatives and used bookstores didn’t exist in 1998.

        All current bookstore owners who don’t have dialup but have DSL should forget the point of my post and even though abebooks.com is available to everyone, they should become literary mendicants.

    • The current Amazon sales rank of Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild is 11,355. Not bad for a book lost to the mists of time.

    • Barbara, I particularly enjoy the musical version of the Shop Around The Corner, In The Good Old Summertime with Judy Garland and Van Johnson. Worth the watch if you like the original.

      • One of my all-time faves, Kelly. Pretty much anything Judy Garland was in was superb, excepting all the Andy Rooney “Let’s put on a show!” stuff. With those, once was enough.

  2. The prohibition on “vanity” publishing is a relatively new idea, and one I’m glad to see go away.

    I don’t know about anyone else, but to me “self-publishing” and “vanity publishing” are two different things. The first one? Oh yes. Long tradition. Second one? Well, probably also a long tradition as there are always snake salespeople where there is monty who are only too glad to take it from people who don’t do their research.

    Go for the first. Still stay away from the second.

  3. That was Judy Garland and *Mickey* Rooney, no? Andy Rooney was the curmudgeon on “60 Minutes.”

  4. I had less respect for this list than I expected. They don’t want conversations about gender or marginalization? They don’t want to discuss tough problems that seriously affect careers and culture? Then don’t blog and don’t talk to people. Same goes for not wanting #hashtag jokes – don’t go on Twitter. The thinking here is more boorish than what they accuse bookstores of engaging in.

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