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Dear Barnes and Nobles;

With a sinking sense of horror, I stopped in at the Howard Hughes Center location in Los Angeles, today. Over the past year, your selection of books has steadily decreased in order to make more room for "Twilight" like books in the Young Adult category. Now you have the entire center of your story occupied by a great number of a very few books.

I tried reading those "Twilight" books, but they had the intellectual depth of Dr.Seuss (really, that's totally unfair to Mr. Geist, who was quite a thinker!) and the prose quality of airline emergency drill placards. The imitators of "Twilight", who occupied the majority of the section, are, I can only imagine, even worse.

I've been a passionate reader almost my entire 38 years. (I took a few years off in the beginning to learn that whole eating with utensils, walking, and bathroom skills thing). You used to have four solid rows of fantasy and science-fiction, and a large chunk of your story occupied with regular fiction. Now you're down to two rows of sci-fi and fantasy, and a much smaller shelf-count of fiction. And for what? For a pathetic, whiny, dull-as-dishwater exploration of Mormon sexual-angst as seen through the eyes with the emotional wisdom of a sea-cucumber. You ever seen a sea-cucumber? They do not sit around having deep discussions of the impossibility of compassion in a hostile world. No, they lay there like particularly ugly, inert, briny turds. JUST LIKE TWILIGHT.

You are dooming our nation. You are taking excellent authors, both the up-and-coming like Scott Lynch, Joe Abercrombie or Naomi Novik, and the established like Stephen Brust or Jim Butcher, and tearing them off the shelf, never to be seen ...and for what? For tepid, witless, twee crap that rots the brains like pixie-stix rot teeth. Only without being sweet or giving you enough energy to huck a stolen zucchini through Mark Meyer's bedroom window from two houses over, like the real things do. Or did. At least for me. My point is - Pixie-Stix are somewhat like "Twilight", but not in ANY of the good ways - but that's what your store is turning into, one gigantic "Twilight" crap emporium.

I hate this development so much, I will probably just order from Amazon from now on.

God rot your eyes!
David Krieger
SGT, U.S. Army (retired)


( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 14th, 2010 06:25 am (UTC)
... does it make a difference to you that the bookstore at the Howard Hughes center is a Borders and not a Barnes & Noble?
Jan. 14th, 2010 06:27 am (UTC)
I looked it up. The site I found said Barnes and Noble. Now this other site I'm looking at says Borders. So I'm going to send it to both!
Jan. 14th, 2010 06:31 am (UTC)
I promise, it's a Borders. I bought a copy of S.M. Stirling's "The Peshawar Lancers" there just the other night. The receipt is still in the book.

And is the problem the fact that whoever is charge of purchasing for the store has terrible taste; or is that we're living in a culture that actively seeks out mind-numbing schlock and rewards those who produce it?
Jan. 14th, 2010 06:35 am (UTC)
We needn't pander. And really, do they need 800 copies of each of the Twilight books - or will say, 400 each suffice? It's shit. They're shitmongers, responsible for the peddling of shit, and at the expense of gold.

God rot their eyes!
Jan. 14th, 2010 06:40 am (UTC)
Yet the purchasing manager has a responsibility to keep the store running, and so will stock what he or she thinks will be bought. Why buy extra copies of Lynch or Brust when they'll take forever to get sold; whereas that shelf space could be used for more copies of "Twilight" or "Going Rogue," which will sell - helping ensure the store continues to turn a profit, which in turn means everyone gets to keep their job.

Demonstrate to the purchasing manager that there is a market for Butcher, Novik, et al in the LA area by making those purchases from the store. Ask the clerk to order a copy for you if it isn't on the shelf.

Part of why I have not read Twilight or Going Rogue is because I refuse to purchase a copy.
Jan. 14th, 2010 08:43 am (UTC)
So what is/are the other part/s? Couldn't find a free copy on the Internet? Don't have any friends stupid enough to buy it and let you mooch it?

Unless you actively attempted to borrow the book from someone and failed, or tried and failed to secure the book through five-finger discount, there's no justifiable reason to throw in that you haven't read it "in part" because you refuse to buy it. It's hard to read a book you don't have. Duh. I never dated Anna Kournikova in part because I refuse to meet her. What, pray tell, are the other parts that would make any sense of that statement, and which of these are the most likely?

1) She wanted to ask me out
2) We have a mutual friend who's trying to hook us up
3) I'm a closet marketing rep for Omega watches and it was my brilliant idea to recommend she represent us

Absurd enough yet, or should I go on?

If you're ticked Davy's threatening to take his business to the Internet--or to Amazon, in particular--and remove one more brick from the bookstore business model, just say so. Giving a lecture on how bookstores make money and how we should help them help us is passive-aggressive bullshit.
Jan. 14th, 2010 03:47 pm (UTC)
What's more, the local purchasing manager isn't who made the decision to move that stuff out - it was almost certainly a move decided by corporate, and financed by the publisher of "Twilight" who paid for the privilege of eating up the rest of the store.

In the mean time, there's no longer a "new releases" section in Sci-fi, because it got removed to make space for more undead Mormon sex-angst.
Jan. 14th, 2010 07:15 am (UTC)
it's probably a Borders
I saw the same devastation in our local Borders during the winter holidays 2-3 weeks before Xmas.

There are considerations of shelf space 'rent' for slower selling titles - there's also local tastes to cater to at the front of the store as well. Some publishers/wholesalers are very reluctant to front a lot of anything to Borders in fear of having their inventory considered Borders stock if Borders files for bankruptcy. It can happen. I've been under the impression that the majority of ordering, even how the front of the store is set up is done at regional and national levels at Borders. Those big dumps and mini-Twilight boutiques not only sell a lot of crap to tweens, the publisher has paid the store for that space, just like eye-level shelf space at your local grocery store.

But yes, after running out the indys in all but the biggest cities and towns, Borders and B&N have sucked dry a lot of the divine experience that was once ours for merely strolling in and spending an hour browsing. I still try to buy as much new SF/F that I can from speciality dealers, but even then, I get more books ordering on line than I do in a store anymore. Bigger selection, more depth and range, and I can easily send books to loved ones in Georgia or in Ireland with just a few clicks.

So let us join together in mourning, for the once proud institution of the general-interest bricks and mortar bookstore. It was a grand and often glorious run.
Jan. 14th, 2010 03:43 pm (UTC)
Re: it's probably a Borders
I really miss the small, boutique booksellers on the East Coast that were owned by someone who just loved books, instead of "stock" or "product". I wish I had a place like that out here.
Jan. 14th, 2010 11:02 pm (UTC)
Re: it's probably a Borders
Off the top of my head: Vroman's, Skylight Books and Book Soup.

The Twilight books and their knockoffs are extremely popular. As are Regency romances, Candace Bushnell style chick-lit and fashion magazines. You are not the target audience for any of those things. The fact that retail establishments actually sell merchandise that doesn't interest you is just something you are going to have to live with.
Jan. 14th, 2010 11:07 pm (UTC)
Re: it's probably a Borders
I'm delighted that there are genres, shit or no shit, that are of interest to readers of all sorts. What I resent is when one genre, and especially an insipid, stupid, dull genre - crowds out the others. So much so that it's no longer possible to find new releases from long-established authors in another genre. I would be just as irritated by a gigantic whacking Harry Potter section, or - and I mean this - if Tolkien took over half the freakin' book store. That "Twilight" is wretched drivel only compounds the real problem, which is marginalizing and eliminating from the shelves the books I'm there to buy.

Why would I shop at a store that doesn't carry the products I want? I wouldn't. I won't.
Jan. 15th, 2010 11:38 pm (UTC)
Re: it's probably a Borders
You forget that when Lord of the Rings was in theaters, book stores were choked with all kinds of high fantasy cripcrap. And remember when it was all pirates, all the time? Vampire romances will become passe soon enough and retailers will have moved on to something else.

I guess what gets my back up is the hipster too-cool-for-what's-popular attitude I see all too frequently on blogs and message boards. And, frankly, I thought you were above all that bandwagon jumping.
Jan. 16th, 2010 12:16 am (UTC)
Re: it's probably a Borders
Oh what tosh. Your argument eats itself. If I were "too cool for what's popular" then I would have complained about pirates, hobbits, and wizards, wouldn't I have? But I didn't - and you know why? Because unlike "Twilight" they weren't an embarassingly awful story written by someone with the emotional depth of a kitchen sponge. And unlike "Twilight" they didn't absorb entire sections of the bookstore under their groaning mass of crapulousness.

If I've ever, or if I do ever, claim to be too cool for something - slap me. But that's not what's happened here, and you're way off base.
Jan. 14th, 2010 09:27 am (UTC)
I used to love to just walk around book stores like Barnes and Noble or Borders. Hours were spent in there, now I detest them because of this Twilight crap.

Jan. 14th, 2010 01:54 pm (UTC)
Amen brother....our local Borders is CHOKED with these insipid pieces of crap.
Jan. 14th, 2010 02:11 pm (UTC)
I'm linking to this, BTW!
Jan. 14th, 2010 02:49 pm (UTC)
While the thinking is that the big box book stores drive out indies, I live in a suburb of Boston in which the indie drove out a Barnes and Noble! That's because, unlike the big box stores, this indie and several others actually hire knowledgeable staff and buyers, hand sells and recommends the high quality books. What I've found as a bookseller and now book buyer is that those components establish trust between the consumer and the bookstore, and trust is what gets loyal, lifelong consumers more than a mere pointing in the general direction of the schlock.

If you must order online, find a Web site for an indie with an actual store front and purchase from them. Local economies need it more than Amazon, David, which is a bigger devil than the big box stores.
Jan. 14th, 2010 03:44 pm (UTC)
Good point. Amazon is convenient, but an indie deserves patronage.
Jan. 14th, 2010 03:23 pm (UTC)
This is as good a reason as any to support local, independently run bookstores.
Jan. 14th, 2010 03:24 pm (UTC)
And, though Amazon is certainly a big corporation, if you buy through their independent sellers, it somewhat helps to support independent booksellers who might not have any other way to sell their books online.
Jan. 14th, 2010 03:52 pm (UTC)
As long as you can choose to get the book from an independent seller, good. Otherwise, I subscribe to this:


( 21 comments — Leave a comment )