Saturday 1 January 2011

I've tried to take it in good humour

I'm not much a Christian. I tried, honest. I tried the whole "turn the other cheek" gig. Ended up badly depressed and then embraced what I call "moral behaviour". There are some things I cannot abide (blame it on me being an INFJ - and I'm more the "crusader" type than the cute fluffy "healer" type).

One of them is to get laughed at.

We all know traditional book sellers are in the shits. Borders, laden with debt (They are also owned by private equity, which makes them even more vulnerable and cash-strapped than other book chains... different post for another day) has suspended payments to some publishers, according to Publishers Weekly NOT the response of a healthy business.

Then I made the acquaintance (if you can call it that in the days of social media) of the Romance buyer of that same book publisher on Twitter.

She was looking for bloggers for that same book chain's Romance blog (in other words, an unpaid gig for romance authors to fill their social media site with free-for-the-publisher content - and they seem so desperate that some of what I've read there is shockingly bad. I'd link that nonsense, but I don't want to give them more traffic). And as bubbly and fun the romance community is overall, she informed me that they do "mainstream only".

Which begs two questions. How are gay/queer people NOT mainstream? (And NO amount of smileys and bubbly personality can soften that question). Queers are everywhere. I've even encountered the head of the GLBTQ group of a CONSERVATIVE LAW FIRM in London. The lawyer put it on his CV that their press lady sent me. There's a financial services lawyer, and he's introduced as "X.... chairman of Y's GLTBQ group".

Law firms can do it. Borders can't?

I've spent some pleasant times (and hundreds of pounds) in Borders stores in the UK. I sheltered there in the Chicago weather on my last day in the States. Now I'm being told - smiling, polite - that what I write, what thousands of people care very passionately about, is not "mainstream" enough for their blog.

Well, seems Borders hasn't learnt the lesson of the "long tail" yet. I'll look forward for it to go down in flames, and ideally screaming loudly all the way down.

So that was the last bag of books I bought from there. I'll be buying my books online from The Book Depository from now on (hint: free worldwide delivery). And buy my "want now" books from Foyles in London. I have never been laughed at either by TBD or Foyles.

If I was holding any Borders shares, I'd sell now.


  1. Are they for real? OMG! We have Borders but I don't recall every spending any money there, B&N being more convenient. Glad I never did. Smile while they dis you? I'll light the match!

  2. I guess if we're not mainstream enough, I'll continue shopping at the specialists and the open-minded generalists.

  3. A true case of a seller not listening to the buyer. Pretend something doesn't exist and lose your ass in the process. Time to come into the proper century, people. *Having the urge to slap someone!*

  4. That just makes me heart-sick. I have to admit, I am 'new' to this genre, barely a year that I have been enjoying it, but in that time, I don't think I have ever met more wonderful, caring people, both writers and readers. You, Aleks...there has never been a more selfless person I have ever known. I don't know you very well, Brita, but I know 'of' you, and there is Lee and Joyee, all of you are just the most down to earth, friendliest group of writers I have had the pleasure of knowing. Then there are the readers; myself, Arzu, Audra, Karen...we don't count because we aren't mainstream? Ummm, excuse me. What I read doesn't and shouldn't make me less valuable in the bookselling business. And, if they are going belly up, serves them right. Look at all the money they are losing by being prejudiced assholes.

    And, Brita...I am with you...someone needs an old-fashioned slap upside the head.

    Borders has seen it's last dollar from me, and it being the ONLY bookstore in my town, that means something. I will drive to the next town over from now on.

  5. Oh good grief! I rarely shop at borders, and with this post, I will never shop there again. I go to B&N for my books both online and actual stores. Borders is so desperate, yet they turn down a multi-published author simply because they think he isn't mainstream enough? Talk about shooting yourself in the foot and wallet!
    I am sorry they insulted you Aleksandr. Stupid people.