Good morning bookies. Stand by for news.
It’s Sunday, the first day of Standard time. Given that your friendly neighborhood bookseller hates cold weather and darkness, it’s not a day he particularly looks forward to. I have been told that Christmas decorations fit nicely on a palm tree and finding out is one of my main objectives in life.
The growth of online bookselling has certainly had its high points, (me, for example) but as with any human endeavor there are also unintended consequences. The major selling sites, Amazon, ABE, Alibris, Biblio, are all overrun with ‘booksellers’ who wouldn’t know a book if it bit them in the butt. They are commodities brokers and books are their produce.
You know the ones. Their descriptions all say something like ‘may be ex-library, may have marks or writing, may have a dust jacket’. (I keep waiting for one to say ‘may actually be a book.’) These people haul in massive quantities of battered books, scan their ISBNs, pull out the ones their computers tell them to pull out, then list them on a site with no description and little interest in accuracy. They are usually called mega-listers and you often see a variation of them at book sales holding electronic scanning devices. (Watch for a future blog entitled ‘Invasion of the Scanner People. Oh, and before some of you go berserk, I understand that scanners might be a useful adjunct for a true bookseller. I’m referring to those whose only basis for buying a book rests with the scanner)
BBG despises this practice. Sometimes a customer looking for a nice, well described first edition of a particular book may have to wade through pages and pages of this mega-lister crap first, and who wants to do that? So why do the sites allow this? Because as long as the mega-listers pay their fees on time, the sites don’t care. For all of their advertising about great books and great sellers, etc., as long as the check clears they don’t care what their listers do.
(On a side note, this is why www.worldbookmarket.com was born. A collection of booksellers who actually describe their books and have them in stock. What a unique concept!)
So, today, we bring you an article on one such mega-lister. This company is not particularly different from the others who do the exact same thing. I especially like the garbage chute with the books pouring from it; nothing like caring about what you sell, eh?
*** The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.
If you understand that reference, then you will probably want to read a new history of the band, Pigs Might Fly, the Inside Story of Pink Floyd by Mark Blake. Every human being and a majority of aliens have, of course, memorized ‘Dark Side of the Moon’, but how many have seen the 1971 movie ‘Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii’? Pre-dating ‘Moon’, the movie has the boys performing all of their early stuff to an audience of Roman ghosts. For your blog-host it’s surreal, since I’ve been to Pompeii and stood at the very spot where they filmed. I haven’t read Blake’s book about the Floyd, and it’s not generally the sort of thing I do read, but this might be an exception.
*** We may have found the perfect Christmas gift for a bookie. Coffee table books are always popular, large, generally printed on heavy, slick paper, bright photographs and illustrations, ideal for reading a few minutes and putting aside. So what better coffee table book could one ask for than Monsters: History’s Most Evil Men and Women by Simon Sebag Montefiore?
Certainly such a book could help to muddle through the awkwardness of Christmas with relatives or friends, the perfect conversation piece when things lag a bit.
“So, who is your favorite mass murderer?”
“Oh, I had always leaned toward Stalin, but after reading this book I have a new admiration for Madame Mao. More coffee or mince meat pie?”
*** I must admit that Neil Gaiman has not been one of my favorite writers. It’s not that I dislike his work, it’s just that by the time he came on the scene I was done reading SFF for a while. Fortunately, it’s the nature of books that such things are easily rectified by simply buying someone’s backlist. Indeed, the idea behind his new novel The Graveyard Book is so intriguing I might have to do that very thing. It’s the story of a boy who escapes from a serial killer who wipes out his family and is raised in a graveyard by ghosts, vampires and werewolves. Such fun. Here’s a very interesting interview: