Seattle Helps You Decide What to Read
Posted by: Keir Graff
Seattle’s influence in the world of books looms large of late, but Nancy Pearl can’t take all the credit–no, she has to share it with Amazon, Starbucks, and Costco. In the New York Times (“Book Lovers Ask, What’s Seattle’s Secret?”), Julie Bick examines the retail giants’ bookselling strategies: microlevel, one-book-fits-all, and by-the-pallet. Perhaps because it’s Seattle, the executives speak of “ideals,” “an old-fashioned outlook,” and, in the case of Costco, “profit.”
Also from Seattle but at the other end of the spectrum, independent bookselling, Paul Constant discusses The Perils and Pleasures of Chasing Book Thieves (“Flying Off the Shelves,” The Stranger). Great intro, strong language:
In my eight years working at an independent bookstore, I lost count of how many shoplifters I chased through the streets of Seattle while shouting “Drop the book!” I chased them down crowded pedestrian plazas in the afternoon, I chased them through alleys at night, I even chased one into a train tunnel. I chased a book thief to the waterfront, where he shouted, “Here are your fucking books!” and threw a half-dozen paperbacks, including Bomb the Suburbs and A People’s History of the United States, into Puget Sound, preferring to watch them slowly sink into the muck rather than hand them back to the bookseller they were stolen from. He had that ferocious, orgasmic gleam in his eye of somebody who was living in the climax of his own movie: I suppose he felt like he was liberating them somehow.
Before this essay I had never come across the term “antisellers,” nor had I considered the “New York Times best-seller list of stolen books.”