Twice this week I’ve accompanied Kim shopping (kicking and screaming, whining about deadlines and breaking my concentration and all that B.S.) because the particular shopping center she went to has a Books A Million store in it.
“Fine, fine, I’ll go,” I yelled, trying to remember how to put pants and shoes on. I envisioned my own shopping spree, with a handful of new books to read and a smile on my unshaven face (I’m now down to shaving once a week as a ‘full-time author’ – pretty much when it starts itching so much) and afterwards going home and settling into my comfy chair and reading until the metaphorical cows came home.
Instead, I came away empty-handed. Twice.
Yesterday she handed me a crisp one hundred dollar bill (I think it was even real) and didn’t even impose a spending amount, just handed it over like we had all the money in the world to waste on books and such. I walked to the Books A Million with a step in my step I hadn’t had in weeks. I also hadn’t moved this much in weeks, so I was a bit winded by the time I got inside.
I wandered the store, smiled at the staff, and tried to settle down. Would I buy ten books or one big huge one, or maybe some magazines and a book, or any combination I could dream up?
The first thing that got me bothered were the book shelves themselves… they still had the same amount of space for them, but the books themselves were… weird…
Not the actual printed books, but the way they were displaying them now: two books spine-out, one book showing the cover… row after row. What the heck?
I asked one of the freaky chicks who worked there what the deal was. She looked at me (42, fat, gray-streaked goatee and crazy unshaven face under a backwards-not-cool-anymore-to-wear-like-that Red Sox baseball cap and smiled… I think that’s what she did, hard to say under all the face piercings and crazy tattoos on her neck.
Anyway, it turns out that they do that because… wait for it… they aren’t getting as many print books as they once did. So they spread them out, set up less book displays and more Star Wars/anime/manga/gift cards/Nook displays.
I wandered, I picked up a few books, I smelled one (at least they still smell good), and didn’t find a damn thing to buy. Why? Well, the few books I saw I liked I already owned (three mass market Joe McKinney paperbacks but nothing else from him; a couple of John Joseph Adams and Christopher Golden anthologies I already own on my Kindle; Jonathan Maberry zombie books front-faced in the Sci Fi/Fantasy section) and the rest were things I didn’t care enough to shell out $16.95 when I could buy it on Kindle for half that price, if I even wanted it.
90% of my reading these days is by indie authors from small-press companies unless it’s from someone I collect in print and have to have a complete library of (Brian Keene, Richard Lee Byers, John Everson, Jeff Strand, and Joe McKinney to name a few). Even the magazines seemed dated, with information I could find online and updated.
The publishing industry – the old model – was foreign to me. Why go to the store, buy a print book, wait in line, run my card, wait until I got home to read it, when I could click one lousy button and drop it into my TBR Kindle pile?
I gave Kim the hundred dollar bill back (OK, when she saw no bag she immediately put her hand out) and went home.
The only good part: I can put my pants and shoes back in the closet. I won’t need them for awhile.
Unless she wants to take me to dinner, something fancy like Sonny’s or Golden Corral.