January 23, 2009

Despite shrines to Obama, the bookstore was nearly deserted.

Shrine #1:

Bookstore shrine to Obama

Shrine #2:

Bookstore shrine to Obama

Overview of the deserted place:

Bookstore

Where is everyone? It's about 5:30 p.m. here at Borders, and I feel as though I've stayed until after closing time. I used to like to go here to browse alongside myriad strangers and to run into people I knew. Now, there's zero "town square" ambiance.

Here's a title that made me feel good about the way my reading about current politics has, in the past few years, migrated nearly completely on-line:

Bookstore shrine to Obama

"What Obama Means." Spare me. Whatever is in that book can — I will bet you — be skimmed and understood in less than one minute.

IN THE COMMENTS: Zachary Paul Sire said:
Off topic, but thought you all should know: I am alive.

UPDATE: "Media Matters doesn't understand the word 'despite.' Talk about dumb." You are dumb, "Erice." People who actually can read know that "despite" ≠ "because of."

UPDATE, 7/19/11: Borders dies.

140 comments:

Beth said...

Obama and Michelle are on the cover of TV guide. I buy that every week. Fortunately, I've not encountered such a shrine yet.

vbspurs said...

Obama is your New Bicycle

Cheers,
Victoria

blake said...

Well, yeah.

I mean, we had eight years of wall-to-wall evil Bush stuff. Even if it didn't sell.

Now we'll get 8-10 years of Obama is great stuff. (Even if it doesn't sell.)

Some people need constant reassurance.

Palladian said...

JABARI ASIM?

Sounds like a Junior Jumble.

Revenant said...

The only time I go into a bookstore is when there happens to be one attached to the coffee shop I'm patronizing, and I've got some time to kill.

Amazon uber alles, baby.

Revenant said...

JABARI ASIM? Sounds like a Junior Jumble.

Apparently he's the editor of the NAACP's house magazine.

rhhardin said...

Chuck Todd (How Obama Won) interviewed by Imus 1/14. I don't remember it as memorable.

Palladian said...

They can shovel all the Yay Barack Obama! books into the hopper with all the Boo George W. Bush! books at the back of the store and sell them for 49¢ a pound, or maybe $5 a bag. They'd make excellent kindling. Or perhaps could be used to level a particularly crooked hutch. Or maybe as insulation for an attic. Or the creative buyer could dip them in some sort of biodegradable plastic resin and turn them into a high-tech "green" building material, perhaps using them to construct houses for the poor. And if they collected up all the pro-Bush books in America, they might have enough to build a dog house out back of one of the houses.

Palladian said...

"Apparently he's the editor of the NAACP's house magazine."

Oh. So in light of that fact, does my comment now make me a racist?

1jpb said...

Likelihood Althouse has a preplanned post regarding Palin's requested $11 million dollar book advance?

I'd say 58%.

Seems like the obvious way to playoff of this post.

On second thought, maybe only 44%: the Palin book deal seems too uninteresting--what is there to say about it?

1jpb said...

Some people need constant reassurance.

This must explain the extreme popularity of conservative victimology books. The world is out to get them. Everybody knows that conservatives are the biggest victims of all. It's so sad, I'm weeping all over the keyboard. Got to go.

JohnAnnArbor said...

Borders Store 1 in Ann Arbor used to have a small "University Books" section for new stuff from academic publishers. I don't think they've had that for a long time, now. Too bad.

rhhardin said...

Brian Williams on Imus the next day, says he picks up the book for brief periods while making toast.

ballyfager said...

@Revenant,

Ultimately it will be Amazon uber alles. But I don't know why anyone would see that as a good thing.

Synova said...

Obama was on the cover of Spiderman. (And inside too?)

Apparently, first issue copies are NOT cheap. ;-)

Henry said...

The wonderful subscription library we belong to is overrun with these shoddy political thrillers. For the past eight years the Bush-is-a-Disaster mini-series has larded up the new book shelf.

Now I know what to expect the next four years.

(Otherwise, it is a wonderful, eclectic library. Tucked among the redundant Bush stuff were recent reads A Farewell to Alms and Champlain's Dream.)

Lem said...

The superbowl is not for anther week, we Still 3 weeks till pitchers and catchers...


God help us all ;)

Jennifer said...

So in light of that fact, does my comment now make me a racist?

I believe, in light of your vote, you already were one.

Original George said...

I was also in Borders today and saw two things I'd never seen before:

a) The front table was loaded with 'classic' novels like "The Godfather" all on sale for $6.99

b) The shelves seemed to contain fewer books. Lots of empty space.

Conclusion: They can't sell high priced new hardbacks, and they're cutting inventory.

Before Christmas, I priced Borders books against Amazon, and Amazon was uniformly selling new books for 30 percent less than Borders.

Also, Obama euphoria can only last so long. I give it until April or May at the latest, except for rags like People which will feed off of him and his family forever.

m00se said...

Remember.

*He won*.

No more campaigning. No more reaching out or reaching around for that matter.

No more needing to read, or think. Just *Obey*.

Obama will make it all better.

Curtiss said...

Is the suggestion that these book covered tables - the shrines - actually contain the relics of a holy person or a saint.

I'm not questioning the holy person/saint part. But are the books relics?

Paul Zrimsek said...

Stroll over to Helen C. White Hall and you'll probably find at least one seminar on "Obama as Text" in progress.

Palladian said...

"No more needing to read, or think. Just *Obey*."

Obey Obama.

jayne_cobb said...

Synova,

He was in a small strip in the back of the book; last I heard some stores were selling the comic for $20.

That said, this had little to do with comic fans and more to do with people looking for collectibles; same thing happened when they killed Superman off in the early 90's (which was the first of many times). This was a publicity stunt by Marvel which has been doing a great many lately (see Stan Lee's "first gay superhero" remark which is complete bullshit).

If it's any consolation the amount of books sold, and the high probability that these are all going to be held as collectibles means that they're going to worth about as much as beanie babies currently are (probably less actually).



Incidentally Spiderman has sucked as of late; if you want a good comic to read you should read Fables which is written by Bill Willingham who also has written for BigHollywood.com

Kirby Olson said...

It's how East Bloc bookstores used to look, with the president grinning from shrines, and their wisdom celebrated by every news organ, or else.

The NYT is about to fold, I hear.

blake said...

"Some people need constant reassurance."

This must explain the extreme popularity of conservative victimology books. The world is out to get them. Everybody knows that conservatives are the biggest victims of all. It's so sad, I'm weeping all over the keyboard. Got to go.


Um. Touché?

EDH said...

That one Joe Biden book looks like it'd be hard to put down once you cracked the cover.

TRundgren said...

With the death of young pakistani children tonight via a US missile, Obama is now a war criminal.

Pray for the innocent lives this man has killed.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Despite the Obama shrines, which are nauseating, what is interesting is the lack of patrons.

Assuming that there isn't a weather related reason (snow, ice, global warming) my sense is that it is the economy. People who like to read a lot *raises hand* will buy books, but when times get hard they will not buy "new" books and begin to frequent the lower cost options. Libraries, Goodwill etc.

It is called Discrestionary Income (DI). If you have it you spend on fun stuff and buy frivilous books on Obama. When you don't have DI you downscale.

Moral of the story: don't buy stocks in firms that specialize in DI purchases.

Simon said...

I went into an Indianapolis book store last week and encountered something similar. It is, frankly, repulsive. This attitude people have towards the President is incredibly unhealthy - if this is not a cult of personality, it is the stuff of which they are made.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Oh...and the above post in no way constitutes investment advice as past performance does not guarantee future results and would be in violation of rule 405.

yada yada yada

Methadras said...

Ann, does the infantile fawning that your typical Mr. Barely supporter/voter displays really irk you that much? Why do you UGH!!! yourself when you see this stuff?

chuck b. said...

"Where is everyone? It's about 5:30 p.m. ....myriad strangers and to run into people I knew."

Even on Friday nights?

Glen said...

Celibacy. Virginity. Combating loneliness and squirrels. Need to talk about something Althouse?

Michael H said...

Isn't the new administration supposed to be all carbon footprinty? Shouldn't they DEMAND that all Obama books be published only electronically?

I mean, those displays of dead trees are soooo not green.

chuck b. said...

Maybe all the customers are cocooned on the ceiling in spider webs, being fed on my giant, furry spiders. Did you even look up?

rcocean said...

How did Obama win?

Two words: John McCain.

Johnny B. D. said...

I'd be willing to bet that you are the only law professor in the world who takes pride in the fact that she barely reads books.

Label: candyass intellectuals

Trooper York said...

Hey Johnny, shouldn't you be back at the motel waiting to stab Janet Leigh in the shower?

Marcia said...

We drove by Borders last night. About a half dozen cars in the parking lot (and it was a nice evening for January). A couple years ago, it would have been 10 times as many.

My husband says he read that their financials are terrible. They've been cutting inventory here for years and, yes, very in-your-face with the liberal political stuff. Perhaps not great marketing in this red, red town.

Zachary Paul Sire said...

Off topic, but thought you all should know: I am alive.

Glen said...

Johnny B. D. said:

I'd be willing to bet that you are the only law professor in the world who takes pride in the fact that she barely reads books.

Althouse didn't say she barely reads books. She said her political readings have gravitated to the 'net over the last few years.

You understand literature has a larger scope than politics, yes?

.....

rcocean said...

Althouse said she reads books while bare naked. Please get it right.

Chip Ahoy said...

No, you're wrong, Althouse said she imagined reading books from the fork in the branches of a large tree, but then never did, and that the Kindle thing didn't work out.

john said...

Zachary -

I am glad you're alive. Jees, bad break, guy. That must hurt.

You have my best wishes, and hoping you have a fast recovery.

john said...

Can someone send some soup over?

Palladian said...

"Off topic, but thought you all should know: I am alive."

See, that's what happens when you vent your spleen so much!

Sorry, dear, I couldn't resist. Get well.

Henry Buck said...

Chip,
I think you could turn that into the next inaugural poem:

we imagine
reading books
in the fork of the branches
of a tall tree
but our kindle doesn't work
for us-
damn whiteys!

Bender said...

Borders Store 1 in Ann Arbor used to have a small "University Books" section for new stuff from academic publishers. I don't think they've had that for a long time, now. Too bad.

Well, Borders Store 1 in Ann Arbor no longer exists, having moved from its original spot to the old Jacobsen's store down the block.

Pretty soon, Borders stores 2 through 10,000 will probably no longer exist. First, they insult and frustrate and kill off about 40 percent of their customer base by using the New York Times method of pushing the liberal stuff and telling conservatives to go to hell. Then they end their partnership with Amazon in order to have their own exclusive website, which, like the stores, has an ever dwindling inventory, with higher prices than Amazon or B&N. Then they renovate their stores, move stuff around, and generally make it harder to find things in their stores, if they even have it.

It's the story of a one-time strong company and model of American entreprenurialism being run into the ground and destroyed.

JohnAnnArbor said...

Well, Borders Store 1 in Ann Arbor no longer exists, having moved from its original spot to the old Jacobsen's store down the block.

I consider it the same store, just moved.

I really miss Jacobsons.

Cedarford said...

rcocean said...
How did Obama win?

Two words: John McCain.


No, 11 words.

John McCain
George Bush
Economic Catastrophe
Hispanics
Brilliant Campaign
Obsolete Conservatism

In hindsight, Romney would have made it more competitive. But that would have only removed the John McCain factor. 8 bad years for the country and failure of Republicans to expand their Base meant either Hillary or Obama would still have likely won against Romney...even if he picked a better VP than Palin like Pawlenty or Hutchinson or Olympia Snowe who appealed to idependents and moderates more than Palin did.

Ralph said...

Palladian, you may not be a racist, but Althouse sure is. Judging a book by its cover! The very definition.
And if the author were Joe Smith, you know she'd love it.

Palladian said...

How did Gwen Ifill get them to agree to print her name larger than the book title? Is she a big draw?

chickenlittle said...

There isn't much to judge you by Ralph, but based on your last post--I'll go out on a limb here--you're an asshole.

Lem said...

I've just watched Things we Lost in the Fire (2007)

Very, very good.

It's similar to Red Road from a year earlier.

Kirk Parker said...

ballyfager,

"Ultimately it will be Amazon uber alles. But I don't know why anyone would see that as a good thing."

More books available, for a longer period time before they go out of print, for lower prices. Also, their entire catalog is integrated with a huge list of 3rd-party sellers of new/surplus and used books. That catalog includes zillions of titles that are out of print and never coming back, just so they can support those Amazon Marketplace sellers.

That significance of that last point is, if I may steal a term from TitusWhereIsHeNow, fabulous. What used to be the province of a few specialty sellers like Powells, but was mostly handled by your local Goodwill, is now a single, unified national market--or even international. As a result, far more worthwhile old books get recirculated to new owners, instead of just disappearing into must.

Ralph said...

chickenlittle, your paranoia has eclipsed your sense of humor.

Oligonicella said...

Althouse --

"What Obama Means." Spare me. Whatever is in that book can — I will bet you — be skimmed and understood in less than one minute.

So, you're saying it's succinct and precise?

Lem said...

At some point in the age of Obama to be called a racist must start to sound like the sound of being called a socialist, aka communist aka Marxist.

Sure some communist still around but communism is so discredited even when we do things that clearly creep into that failed realm, there are no celebrations.

If in the aftermath of the age of Obama we discover that "racism" has not withered on the vine (as it were) the we shall have Obama to blame.

BTW - Microsft word still has not gotten the word that Obama is the president of the US. Spellcheck goes for Osama everytime.

Lem said...

Perhaps not entirely, but surely Obama, if and when, should bear some of that burden.

Michael H said...

Borders (NYSE:BGP) closed at $.53 today, down 8.62%. It's 52 week high was $11.60.

So the market plan is working out pretty well......

Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) closed at $50.63 today, up 1.38%. It's 52 week high was $91.75.

Give the buyers what they want, without an agenda, seems to be working. Plus, you can make your own coffee and save a few extra bucks.

The Crack Emcee said...

"Microsft word still has not gotten the word that Obama is the president of the US. Spellcheck goes for Osama everytime."

Problem?

Michael H said...

Probably laid off the spellcheck code guy.

Lem said...

I'm an Obama critic, so maybe I'm not the one to tell.

But, if Obama wanted people to read, he would show himself reading and not txting.

BTW - I got to hand it Althouse. I don't think even Rush would claim that Obama has dealt a blow to Americas reading culture ;)

Is Althouse already regretting her vote?

Zachary Paul Sire said...

The worst part about my whole hospital stay was not being able to eat. almost 48 hours with no food, and no drink, not even water. They were concerned that i might have to into surgery at any moment. Thanks for letting me share.

Oh yeah, the male nurse I had, Javier, was hot and I could tell he was into me when he was helping me get dressed and then sticking those heart monitor things all over my chest/torso. That was the highlight.

Lem said...

Problem?

Well, Only if Microsoft claims to be the premier computer oparating system in the world.

Word should not believe that Obama is a misspelling.

It's like he said "I won" ;)

Lem said...

Oh yeah, the male nurse I had, Javier, was hot and I could tell he was into me..

I'm not Titus but ... this is what he might say ;)

Methadras said...

Zachary Paul Sire said...

Off topic, but thought you all should know: I am alive.


My God man, what the hell did you do to get a ruptured spleen? Are they sure it wasn't a cancerous rupture or something like that. Either way, get well, please.

Methadras said...

Lem said...

BTW - Microsft word still has not gotten the word that Obama is the president of the US. Spellcheck goes for Osama everytime.


Oh, don't worry. They will fix it in a monthly Tuesday update. Even still, you have to hand to Word for being consistent in it's appraisal of the name.

chickenlittle said...

@Ralph: Good call. I'm checking into rehab this Sunday.

Lem said...

My God man, what the hell did you do to get a ruptured spleen?

I hurt myself today

Lem said...

you have to hand to Word for being consistent in it's appraisal of the name.

Ok ok.. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Lem said...

The word is silent..

dick said...

I go to the Barnes and Nobel next to St Johns in Queens and they have the Obama in the second row of the store. Their coffee shop is always busy as is their magazine section. The rest of it seems to be centered in the remainders section. The rest of the store has maybe 3 or 4 people there. A couple of years ago it was always busy but lately not so much.

I've been splitting my book buying up between Alibris, Abebooks and Amazon with once in a while Daedalus when they have something interesting. I just find that even paying shipping it is cheaper than B&N and especially cheaper than Borders. There used to be a big Borders in the WTC that I would go to after work and they were usually packed. Now the only one I know of is in Manhattan at 57th and, I think, Madison and it is so badly organized that I don't even bother. I can never find anything in the place.

Lem said...

Sinova said..

Obama was on the cover of Spiderman. (And inside too?)

Spiderman is having me for dinner tonight..

Lem said...

Take for for example the misunderestimated word Would

Lem said...

Wish I knew what you were looking for..

Under the Milky Way Tonight..

I got no time for private cunsultation..

Lem said...

The word is Freedom of Speech..

Word up Obama..

Eli Blake said...

You mean you actually think that in a month like this, people would go to a bookstore?

People are only buying what they need. You can't eat a book, you can't wear it, and you can't sleep under it, so therefore it isn't necessary. So they aren't buying it.

Same thing here. Grocery stores are doing fine. Most other stores are hurting.

Lem said...

Dial M for Murder..

Lem said...

Aint Nuthin but a G Thang..

Lem said...

Still D.R.E...

yO Althouse still got it ;)

Lem said...

Tatataatataa ..

Noel said...

Wow an empty Borders...never seen that before.

jdeeripper said...

Palladian said..."Off topic, but thought you all should know: I am alive."

See, that's what happens when you vent your spleen so much!

Sorry, dear, I couldn't resist. Get well.


Palladian only wants you to stay alive in order to continue to abuse you in the dungeon that is the Althouse comment section.

He has a J.Darmer/Rev. Heidnik way about him.

Cedarford said...In hindsight, Romney would have made it more competitive. But that would have only removed the John McCain factor.

Well of course Romney would have done better. If the ticket was Romney/Ridge and they had run a serious campaign based on economics, qualifications and resume and torn Obama up on his actual history the way Steve Sailer did in his new book they might have won it.

But senile old Mr. Friendly and Wonder Girl had no chance.

How many trees had to die to create those piles of Obama worship?

Do the tree hugging, anti-global warmer Obamadroids even care?

In a few months all these books will be available at Hamilton Books for $3.95.

Is Obama the next Lincoln, JFK or Jimmy Carter? He might turn out to be "our" first Cabbage Patch President! I might copyright that.

I went to Borders a lot in the 90s before I gave it up for the internet. One day I was in there for maybe 4 hours and didn't buy a damn thing and I noticed they had some woman author at a table for a book signing. It was announced over the speaker system several times. And I'm pretty sure not one person ever came up to her table except one of the women who worked in the store.

It was embarrassing.

Eric Hammerbacher said...

omg I love skimming too lol!

but here is my latest reading list:

The Black Swan by Taleb (please read this one ASAP)
Hayek
Daniel Quinn's latest book and reread Ishmael
Measure for Measure and The Winter's Tale by Shakespeare (I haven't read either)
The Language Instinct by Steven Pinker
The God Delusion and The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins
Karl Popper on the Open Society
Gravity and Grace and Intimations of Christianity Among the Ancient Greeks by Simone Weil
Collapse by Jared Diamond
Pale Fire and The Annotated Lolita by Nabokov
The Practical Prophet (about reformist Bishop Ken Untener who ran the Saginaw diocese like an itinerant Steve Martin when I was growing up)
Born Standing Up by Steve Martin

I read Guns, Germs and Steel awhile ago and loved it. I better go add it to my favorite books pn facebook ASAP.

Ann, have you ever read Lolita? I read the annotated version and IMHO it may be the best book I ever read, but plenty of women I love HATE Lolita and have problems with real-life Lolitas. Maybe including you judging by the way you reacted to the "girl who left her boobs on".

Eric Hammerbacher said...

And I remember you wrote about being very moved by Kubrick's version so don't tell me I haven't been paying attention. I pay as much attention as I can.

traditionalguy said...

As the Obama world turns, it will be interesting to see what happens when people start to publicly express derision towards his actions. So far he has ridden everone's desire to be post racist a long way. Time is about up on that Shield from all criticism. Again the Press Corps will either come back to life, or be silenced voluntarily or be silenced forcefully. The all-powerful Obama we know does not expect derision from those dependent upon Him. Also the Borders stores in Atlanta are struggling to find customers who buy and not just read and leave. It might help if they carried books such as America Alone by a clever writer named Mark Steyn. they told me they had heard of it, but did not know where in the store it was hidden, but they could order it. Meanwhile every alter to Popular new books was dedicated to tell all books about the evils of the Criminal Bush Gang. A little balance might have won some respect for them as Booksellers and not Propagandists. So I have not gone back and do order online now.

ballyfager said...

@Kirk Parker,

Everything you say is beside the point to my point which is ; the disappearance of bookstores is not a good thing.

There seems to be general agreement that Borders won't be around too much longer. Life seems to be about options. I don't see how having the Borders option removed can be construed as a good thing. If you respond by saying you don't go there, that's your choice. But having the choice is a plus.

My choice is to never, ever buy anything from Amazon. I realize I could save a few dollars there but I'd rather support Barnes & Noble and Borders.

To be more explicit, Amazon starting with Jeff Oogotz, can go to hell.

Ron said...

The Old Borders store 1 became Steve and Barry's and now they've folded! Maybe Borders should move back...and replace the fluffy know-nothings with the surly grad students of yore... I met James Earl Jones (connecting to the Stranglove thread?) signing books at the old store 1...kids were coming up to him to do their Darth Vader impressions!

commenter said...

in a college town there must be independent/out of print booksellers. I know my town has at least three just on my walk to the library, plus the friends of the library bookstore.

what if big national chains went away and we were left with the choice of very small brick and mortar stores and very large internet.

commenter said...

it would be the same as the political system. The very large, large republican/democratic political party, that we all know is just one big thing, and the very very small scattered about third parties who never get enough votes but still manage to survive.

Pogo said...

DBQ is right; this is entirely a function of economics, and a harbinger of things to come.

We are facing a painful depression in the next few years, and Borders books will be among the many casualties.

I take no pleasure in seeing this unfold, this clusterf*ck of incompetence, greed, and the demand to live beyond your means.

I quit buying from these stores years ago because of their in-your-face liberal politics. So I don't feel bad about their pending disappearance; bookstores have been gone for me for 5 years now at least.

Borders execs and local chain owners probably thought they were actually selling stuff people wanted, although why they thought this is unclear. Idiots all.

Pogo said...

"Despite shrines to Obama, the bookstore was nearly deserted."

Despite?

Perhaps "due to"...

traditionalguy said...

I propose we start a 501(c)(3) entity to support Borders Bookstores with donations from nostalgic readers. Also we need to get a Congressional Earmark for a Museum of Failed Propaganda Outlets. I would like the Director's Job at a $500,000 annual salary and a private jet. After all, this is only being done for the People (like me).

commenter said...

these stores are not just about greed. I used to say that about wal mart. But then i went to wal mart at three in the morning because i was homeless that night and didn't know where else to go so i went shopping. I talked to the people who work at night. They were so friendly and interesting and wal mart employees made me smile. A select few genuinely, not that made up marketing training, but genuine smiles and genuine talk.

thus i changed my opinion . I see this as how America will develop. Large chains eating each other up. Kroger and walmart will eventually merge. Small scattered about stores will remain for nostalgia sense (tourism and history buffs) or that really rich people have a hobby and no room in their homes to expand on it. These local rich may also have the desire to share their knowledge and meet with other indeendent people.

Didn't the library of congress get started because TJefferson books outgrew his home? Or something like that?

fcai said...

More venting, less leaking, I always say.

I once went 5 days in a hospital without food. Great hospital, but the food service woman was a black sociopath. Hated white people. I think she was a bit like Reich, only a lot taller. Of course, everyone is taller than Reich. The Munchkins think he is short. How short is he? He's so short that he's still knee high to a grasshopper. Too short to ride that ride - back to the teacups with you, stumpy! And remember, Robert, the only dwarf who didn't have a beard was called "Dopey". Think upon that, my midget friend.

Michael H said...

In my community, the used book store has expanded and added two new locations in three years. It's usually busy, bargains abound and a bit of searching leads to some interesting and inexpensive reading material.

Their only agenda is to sell stuff.

tjl said...

I saw my first Obama shrine in December in the Borders in Santa Fe NM. The hagiographies were lovingly arranged around an inspiring photo of the President-elect. Santa Fe is a place where love of O. knows no bounds, but even in this context the shrine was disturbing, excessive.

Watch CNN and you get the video equivalent of the bookstore shrine. O's every act is breaking news. Obama keeps his Blackberry!

We can only hope that eventually the sycophancy will curdle. We hope!

al said...

BTW - Microsft word still has not gotten the word that Obama is the president of the US. Spellcheck goes for Osama everytime.

Firefox offers up the following alternative spellings for Obama:

Obadiah, Obadias, Bamako, and Alabama

The local Wally World has a Obama shrine with a couple hundred copies of some special edition magazine. Lots of copies have been flipped through but it doesn't appear that more than one or two have been purchased. Same with the rack of Obama t-shirts.

Maybe the infatuation is already over?

al said...

In funnier news search for "miserable failure" at Yahoo. Obama is #2. #4 at Google.

http://searchengineland.com/yahoo-obama-is-a-miserable-failure-16286

David said...

"How did Obama win?

Two words: John McCain.
"

I offer two more: George Bush

The shrine is just capitalism. As soon as they realize it's not selling, the shrine will be gone.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

"Life seems to be about options." Yes, and Amazon offers just about every book out there, whereas at Borders your options are whatever the store feels like stocking.

The best non-virtual bookstores are the used one, IMO. My husband once bought for me a first American edition of James Pope-Hennessy's Queen Mary, still with tissue paper over the pictures like they used to do.

Ann Althouse said...

Eric Hammerbacher said..."Ann, have you ever read Lolita? I read the annotated version and IMHO it may be the best book I ever read, but plenty of women I love HATE Lolita and have problems with real-life Lolitas. Maybe including you judging by the way you reacted to the "girl who left her boobs on"."

Yes, I have, but I doubt that you have, at least not with understanding. Ditto the old blog post of mine you refer to.

You post your conscientiously striving reading list, then you reveal low understand of a book you say you've read along with annotations. How old are you anyway?

Ann Althouse said...

Also, feminists don't like to be called "girl." You'd better watch yourself, or you might get feministed or fisted or whatever they call it.

The Crack Emcee said...

Watch out: Ann's on to trickery now!!!

The Crack Emcee said...

Fuck, of course, I left out the trickery alert link!!!

[Banging head against keyboard]

Stupid, stupid, stupid,...

Jen Bradford said...

Ouch Zachary! Get well soon. Especially since Anne is talking about fisting, it could get very interesting around here.

p.s. Lolita is great. There's something about the way people who write in English as a second language make it new again - I feel this way reading Aleksandar Hemon also.

Jen Bradford said...

Sorry, no e
Ann!

William said...

I'm with you Laura. I buy most of my books at used book stores. There's a randomness to the offerings. You encounter old, forgotten friends like Jimmy Cannon and biographies of Michael Collins that someday you'll get around to reading. Life is a sequence of random events without any overarching significance. One's reading list should reflect that fact.....I pity the poor Obamaniac who wanders into Borders. He will fatten and die on his obsession without ever realizing the existence of other worlds just beyond the display tables.

vbspurs said...

*speechless about poor Zach*
*left message on his blog*
*wow*

AJ Lynch said...

Call me a sick bastard but I will pay a higher price (than Amazon). Why?

I enjoy going to a Borders and taking my Ann Coulter or Dick Morris to the sales clerk.

Generally they are aghast at my purchase. But once, the rather cute lady hit on me.

You never know. Heh.

Freeman Hunt said...

plenty of women I love HATE Lolita and have problems with real-life Lolitas. Maybe including you judging by the way you reacted to the "girl who left her boobs on"."

LOL Wonder how Valenti would feel about being referred to as a "real-life Lolita"...

vbspurs said...

I enjoy going to a Borders and taking my Ann Coulter or Dick Morris to the sales clerk.

Dude, AJ, I thought that was only me!

I have never bought a Coulter or Morris, but in that photograph I linked to above, I picked up the McCain autobio, and headed for the checkout.

Although there was a queue of two people, they dispersed when they saw me holding the book, like I was a leper! They pretended to talk to each other, as I handed over the book to the clerk, who in turn didn't meet my eyes the whole time.

It was so gloriously in-your-facey. I loved it.

Generally they are aghast at my purchase. But once, the rather cute lady hit on me.

You never know. Heh.


Ahh, books, the last dating frontier.

Cheers,
Victoria

Kirk Parker said...

ballyfager,

"Everything you say is beside the point to my point which is ; the disappearance of bookstores is not a good thing."

The heck it's beside the point: I'm saying that books are more affordable and more widely available than ever before. Who cares, other than the investors or owners, if one particular outlet goes away? The big picture is still very bright.

Rich said...

Nice piece Ann,

The public tends to find people more interesting when they run for an elected office than when they hold one.

As for the emptiness, perhaps we're seeing Maslow's hierarchy realized?

Best,

Rich

Mike K said...

If you were a small publisher, you would know that Amazon is a boon to the book business. I have a very small publishing business and get no returns from Amazon. They pay every month on the first and are a pleasure to do business with.

Ingram, the largest wholesaler for bookstores, returned all the books they had purchased from me for the previous year and demanded a refund of all the money they had paid. I can't imagine why they had kept buying books they weren't selling. They still had orders pending for me to fill at the time they returned all the books.

I have ignored their orders and sold all the returned books through Amazon. Some companies are too stupid to stay in business.

ricpic said...

Isn't Borders on the verge of folding? I think I read something to that effect on some financial page.

blake said...

Bally--

It's a little weird to venerate Borders and B&N when they drove the small non-mega-franchise bookstore out of business.

It seems to me if Borders and B&N fold, those little guys might have a chance to return. And you might actually get back to he days where the bookstore employees actually, you know, read books.

If not, you've got the used bookstores.

Freeman Hunt said...

I would love to have more small places where they really knew their books. I order all my books from Amazon because the big stores offer nothing but higher prices. But I love finding bookstores where nearly all the books carried are high quality, where you can tell that whoever does the purchasing does a lot of research and only selects the best.

Kirk Parker said...

Freeman,

You mean like these guys? Wichita would be a bit of a drive for you, admittedly, but much more doable than for me up in Puget Sound country.

David W Nicholas said...

I've been in the bookstore business for years, and I've purchased things from Amazon, too. Amazon has a truly wonderful selection, and their services and price are excellent. They have two significant shortcomings, however, which aren't fixed (yet anyway) and until they are, the conventional bookstore will probably still remain. There's a third issue that probably will never go away entirely.

For one thing, browsing on Amazon isn't anywhere near as easy as browsing in a conventional bookstore. I can scan a shelf of books I don't want and find the one that interests me a lot faster than I can do the same thing on Amazon's website. If I find a book I want, I can purchase it and read it. Amazon, with its Kindle device, is moving towards fixing that, too, but it will be years before they get everybody on board. And do I really want to carry my whole library around with me, everywhere, so it can be lost or stolen?

Also, there's the issue of actually going to a store, a different environment where you can do everything from attend a poetry reading (never did it myself, but there are some who enjoy such things) to get an autograph from a famous author, or shop and sit in the store reading over prospective purchases. Amazon makes an effort to recreate some of these things, but it hasn't been able to do it that well.

As for Borders' problems, they've been in serious financial difficulties for several years now. Back in the late 90s they were in alright shape, compared with their chief competitors, Crown and Barnes & Noble. Crown went belly-up, at least in part due to internal problems (the original owner, Bob Haft, was edged out by the board of directors, sued, and was awarded an enormous judgment by the courts), and B & N, for whatever reason, wound up with much of the market share. Back then, B & N was more button-down (all of the male staff had to wear ties) and conservative, and Borders was more hip, trendy, and contemporary. Unfortunately, that hip and trendy market is more comfortable going to the internet to buy from Amazon or someone else. Also, Borders was more invested in the music business than B & N was, and of course no one under 25 buys CDs any more---which means they're stuck with a lot of stock and no customers.

They've been limping along for a good while now. They announced about a year ago that they were going to cut stock in an attempt to lower costs, but of course this just lowers sales also (with a bookstore, having multiple titles, provided you choose them properly, increases sales). They were also in a very public search for a buyer back then, and haven't had any real offers. Those Obama shrines aren't the cause of their demise (there are similar shrines at B & N, and they do alright). They're more a symptom of more serious problems within the company.

Kirk Parker said...

David,

"For one thing, browsing on Amazon isn't anywhere near as easy as browsing in a conventional bookstore."

True enough, but it would be even more accurate if you modified it to say "the kind of browsing that's easy in a conventional bookstore isn't anywhere as easy on Amazon.

I like my change because it highlight the fact that other kinds of searching are vastly easier at Amazon. For example, let's set you enter the title "The Continuing Conversion of the Church" and click on Go. In a few seconds you're reading the page about this title, and it looks interesting. You wonder what other books the author has written, so you click on the author's name link. Bingo! There you are. Try seeing how long that kind of search takes at Borders.

Eric said...

Yeah, Borders has been in trouble for quite a while. I worked for B&N back in the '90's when the male staff had to wear ties no blue jeans and crap like that. In Northern and Central New Jersey, I used to actually shop at the Borders rather than B&N, simply because the Borders stores were always less crowded, and at the time, Borders stocked about the same titles as B&N. Although frankly, the Borders stores were never as organized as B&N stores, and the staff could never find anything. Their staff tend to be a bunch of slackers, actually. Definitely a different store culture from B&N.

We used to call all these political books "funiture" because they never sold. Who ever said it was right; they'll all be at Edward Hamilton for 2.98 in about 6 months.

ballyfager said...

Blake,

Way to set up a straw man. I don't "venerate" Borders & Barnes & Noble. I go there and I browse and I read and I enjoy it so much I even put up with their raggedyass Starbucks coffee.

If I'm going to do that and then actually do my buying at Amazon just to save a few bucks well, that's a really cheesy thing to do.

As to small, independent, used bookstores, yeah, what a romantic idea. But this isn't the movies, this is real life.

I'll take Borders and Barnes and Noble, thank you, for as long as they're available.

This started out with me acknowledging that Amazon is the wave of the future. But I'll be damned if I'm going to stand up and cheer about it.

blake said...

Well, okay, what do you think you're going to lose exactly?

If Amazon takes over and Barnes and B&N go under, does that mean that people aren't going to want to go to bookstores any more?

Or does it just mean that the local bookstore model will change again?

I suspect the latter. I don't see brick & mortar going away, and I see little loss for the big chains going under--apart from, you know, brand name recognition, if that's your thing.

jms said...

I saw the shrine in my local Borders. My response was to quietly add a hardback copy of "Atlas Shrugged" to the back of the shrine as I was leaving. Blended right in!

dick said...

Borders stores can be very helpful. When I went to the one at the WTC the clerks there were really on the ball and knew the stock and helped me find whatever I wanted. The last couple of Borders I went to while working out of town, however, were a completely different kettle of fish. You almost had to trip the clerks to get any help at all and then it was just pointing and then moving on. I decided that I could find a better place to spend my money, thank you very much. I am far too old and far too curmudgeonly to put up with that krep.

rhhardin said...

Bookstores were done in by a tax law change in the 70s I think, that publishers can't write off unsold copies until they actually get rid of them. So they started getting rid of them, and out of print books actually became unorderable.

If you didn't pick it up in a remainder sale with its time came, it was suddenly gone forever.

That's somewhat remedied now with online used bookstores, so at least you can get a used copy of most stuff.

Jason said...

The Borders outlets in my neighborhood are leading with Jimmy Carter's book. First thing you see when you walk in the door. Both stores.

Dipshits.

Mr. Forward said...

Finally, America has figured out how to close it's Borders.

ballyfager said...

Blake,

There's a brand new B & N five minutes from where I live. There are two B & Ns and a Borders less than fifteen minutes away. There is another B & N and Borders twenty to twenty five minutes away. Convenience. Options.

Yes, there will always be bookstores. But not even remotely on this scale.

As to the liberal/conservative discussion in this thread, I'm certainly on the conservative side. But I've never had any trouble finding the books I wanted. The clerks I've encountered are mostly helpful and, frankly, I don't think most of them could hold up their end in a discussion on this topic and wouldn't be interested anyway. If management has a liberal bent that's of no consequence to me.

I'm old enough to remember when the big book chains didn't exist. That was, emphatically, not a better world. And yet we can all see we're going to go back to that. It's not the end of civilization as we know it but it is a net negative in our society.

blake said...

Wow, you remember the '80s?

Seriously, though, we could just be dealing with a difference of culture--there was no shortage of bookstores here until the superstores showed up--or just taste.

Bob W. said...

I started to write about this same phenomena today after visiting a Borders in DC, then I saw that you had written about it already, panicked, and then wrote about it anyway (after noting your work, of course).

Chris said...

What a dimwitted observation. Obama the fad/trend is a desperate attempt to capitalize on him, just like any other "happening".

Liberals find fawning and adulation just as obnoxious and counterproductive to politics.

blake said...

Liberals find fawning and adulation just as obnoxious and counterproductive to politics.

I got a thrill up my leg just reading this.

Katherine said...

My goal for this week now is to visit every bookstore in North Texas in search of a similar "shrine" to President Bush (shouldn't be too hard here in Dallas), wait until no one is in the store, take pictures, and use them to prove that everyone in Texas hates Bush.

blake said...

Wow, literacy has really declined in this country.

Max Entropy said...

ballyfager said...

"Ultimately it will be Amazon uber alles. But I don't know why anyone would see that as a good thing."

I don't have much use for Brick and Mortar book stores and their limited invenory. I can browse covers and inside flaps online saving time and gas, getting the books and CDs delivered to my door for less money.
Bookstores however are useful if you tend to like grabbing a couple of heady tomes and sitting in the attached cofee shop scribbling in your journal or texting non-stop in order to show people just how smart and important you are.

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