July 02, 2004

Some Things You Have To Find Out For Yourself

Now, although I don't believe that Oswald acted alone, I generally don't go for conspiracy theories. Having said that, I may be changing my mind about one.

I had been hearing rumors on the net that people were having trouble finding the book Michael Moore is a Big Fat Stupid White Man, by David Hardy and Jason Clarke.
"Seem to be some, well, obstructionism by store staff. Report from Tucson that person called store, was told they didn't stock it, wouldhave to be special ordered, would take eight days. Person went to store and found large quanities on shelf."

I tend to take any extremism with a grain of salt, and I put this down to somebody who had some bad luck, or ran into the wrong salesperson, and jumped to a conclusion. Granted, there are seven or eight more similar tales of woe, but still...

Since I was planning on doing a little shopping, I thought I'd give it a little test of my own. So I strolled into my local Border's, confident that I would have no problems, and walked right over to the new releases.

Hmmm...Bill Clinton's book. Okay, big seller. The DaVinci Code...figured that. The South Beach Diet...really ought to read that copy I bought. Well, I'm sure it's here somewhere. After all, last I checked, it was up to the number four bestseller spot on Amazon.

Let's see...Hillary's book, Richard Clarke's book...should be around here somewhere. Oh, hey--there it is! No, wait...that's a book BY Michael Moore. Uh...another book by him. That's really an old one, what's that doing in the new release section? Especially in the nonfiction section. Hahahahahahahaha!

Well, needless to say, it wasn't anywhere in the new releases section. I chewed on that one on my way back to the Politics section. Maybe they're sold out, I thought. But deep down, I didn't really believe it. I ran into a nice endcap display with all sorts of political books they were advertising. Another book by Moore. A lot about George Bush, some apparently critical, some not. Still no Big Fat Stupid White Guy.

I finally found it on the shelf. Two copies. And there was no shelf space there, so I'm guessing they hadn't already sold a bunch. Thoroughly intrigued, I went to the information desk and asked the lady behind the counter if they had the book.

I got a little look. "It's not out yet," she said.
"I'm pretty sure it is," I replied.
"No, I don't think so."
"Well, actually, I know it is. I found two on the shelf. But I had heard rumors that bookstores weren't really promoting it. I thought that there might be a display somewhere in the store that I hadn't seen."
She began to look nervous, and a little wary. "Uh...I don't know anything about that."
"But there isn't one?"
"That's a little surprising, don't you think? I would have thought that there would be a couple of copies in the new releases."
"Well...I don't really know anything about that."
"But you ARE working in information?"
I just nod...I'll let it stand. "Okay," I say. "I think I'll buy it. Now I see that bestsellers get 30% off. Is that correct?"
She tell me that it's only what Borders considers bestsellers, not, say, the NY Times.
"Well," I add hopefully, "it's number 4 on Amazon.com."
"That has nothing to with us," she says. (remember this...)

I tell her that I know I'll get a discount with Amazon, so I'm going to buy it from them. Relieved, she gives me an "okay," and goes off to help someone else like she heard a cry for help with some kind of super hearing.

Even after all that, I still wasn't convinced. Until I got home and on a lark, typed in what I assumed was the web site for Borders, www.borders.com.

I won't even tell you what I got. Try it for yourself.


  1. They did the same with Zell Miller's book -- which was actually on the NYT best-seller list at the time I wanted to buy a copy for my dad. I got hell in every bookstore and finally bought it from my local B&N. I made a big stink about his having to go fetch it from a pile in the back. I asked, "what, you guys don't want to sell books?"
    "We only promote the books that sell." (Translation: we only promote the books we want people reading.)
    "Oh, because it's a top ten seller."
    "Not for us."
    "Don't you think it's odd that one of the top ten books in the country isn't selling in your stores? Could it be because you're keeping them in the back?"

    And so on, until the transaction was over and the guy sighed a sigh of relief and walked away.

    Funny that bookstores, who cry loudly about censorship, are often engaging in a form of their own.

  2. "Funny that bookstores, who cry loudly about censorship, are often engaging in a form of their own."Well said, Candace. The whole thing still blows my mind. I shop in that store all the time, and I really didn't think anything like this would be going on there. I think I might check out some other stores--a couple of chains and a large, locally owned one come to mind. If I do, I'll be sure to post the results.