Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Knee-Jerks on Booksellers

BuzzMachine... by Jeff Jarvis notes the furor over bookstores running out copies of Unfit for Command. People are accusing them of hiding the book, or refusing to sell it. Regnery has said that moving up the date of publication is what has caused the shortage.

Most of his commentors seem to feel that it is loony right wingers making these charges. I understand, however, why the knee-jerk reaction is to blame the bookstores. Barnes and Noble, Bakersfield, had Hillary Clinton's book, Michael Moore's book and several others prominently displayed. I had to hunt to find Bill O'Reilly's book. It was three shelves below eye level. At eye level was half a shelf of Michael Moore's book, Stupid White Men, displayed with the cover out. I don't know why Barnes and Noble felt it had to display it this way when they already had it prominently displayed at the door.

Recently my wife and I went to a Barnes and Noble just outside Baltimore (Aberdeen or Abingdon or something) and I watched as an employee showed a customer where the books on politics were. Then the customer asked where Sean Hannity's new book was. He was told that it wasn't out yet. I said, "ummm, you mean that one there?" Then he asked for Michelle Malkin's new book. Again, not out yet. Again, "ummmm, you mean that one there?"
I'm getting odd looks from the employee (we call it stink-eye in Hawai'i).

It could have been that the B&N employee was new, or ignorant, or didn't know his job. I would have gone with any of those except for the looks. Oh, and the liberal and leftwing books were in the front of the store (even Chomsky's stuff). At the political display there were conservative books prominent, but more liberal books prominently displayed.

Experiences like that (and don't get me started on a bookstore in Washington I went to) will cause people to assume the worse about people and organizations. In this case they were all wrong, but that assumption is based on previous experience with the involved parties.


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