Borders & Ignoble

Retail citadelI found myself inside one of these boxes again, waiting for my wife to finish up some mall shopping I had tried to talk her out of. These 2 chains of supposed bookstores are like the Democrats and Republicans almost. Nobody can tell any real difference between the two of them.

Usually, I can pull up a chair, and browse their discount picture books for a bit, but this time they had the music (Christmas oriented for the season) cranked up double the usual volume, and it began to drive me a little crazy. It was really annoying, giving some, I guess, an incentive to buy quick and get out of there. I didn’t have that incentive though. These places aren’t really bookstores so much, and I have a hard time even finding anything much of interest to read inside, let alone for puchase.

What do I mean about Borders and its chain competition not really being bookstores? Well, I happened to come across what B & N describe themselves as being to explain some. Here it is…

“Our mission is to operate the best specialty retail business in America.”

This little pearl of thought sits upon all the computer screens as a screen saver, and also is meant to be personal inspiration for the mechanized robots, I meant customer assistants that work there. Nothing about books about these places really. It’s about specialty retail business.

Still, people who enter are most often confused. They do seem to believe that they are in a real bookstore. Actually, meany of the customers have nere seen an actual bookstore, or at least not close up between the shevles. Or even if they happened to stroll through the shelves of a real bookstore, have never really looked much to see what was on the shelves. So it’s kind of easy to see how so many get confused about thinking that they are inside an actual living breathing bookstore. But they aren’t!

They are inside a specialty retail business, that’s all. A good place to sit at a table with a laptop sipping coffee. A good place to buy some pop music crap for some demented teenager one might know. Or a place to pick up a calendar, or some blank sheets of paper for correspondence or a blank diary perhaps? Sure there are books there, but not so many real ones. Many are dedicated to computer programming, or things like Manja (6 shelves alone for that Japanese cartoon stuff and ‘role playing’).

There are categorized sections of everything, well almost. Theses stores are marked off like a MS windows filing system and give sort of a superficial encyclopedic appearance. But little old stupid me. The category that interest me most is Foreign Literature. But look around? I saw about 55 shelves titled Fiction and Literature, but strangely enough there’s hardly a book of foreign literature in this group! One would think upon browsing there, that only dimwitted American authors were alive today? Oh, and maybe a dimwitted Brit, or two.

Oh sure, maybe I should go over to the Science Fiction (20 shelves), Mystery (14 shelves), or Romance (10 shelves) sections. Nothing. Everybody is an America. Apparently they never write mysteries or SF in Italy or Spain, Brazil or Africa? If they do, certainly you can’t find it at an American specialty retail store, as opposed to a bookstore. Despite their supposed thoroughness, Borders and B & N apparently don’t carry certain stuff. Like foreign fiction. Go figure.

They also don’t carry current affairs (3 stacks) commentary much, unless it is Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, that sort of gag-us quality of thought. One does find 13 stacks of Christian babble, too. 6 stacks of Tarot/ New Age 1 1/2 stacks of ‘Eastern Religions”. I am an atheist myself, so I looked for that stack? If you really want to befuddle employees in these stores, go up to one and ask to be directed to atheist oriented non-fiction. It’s great fun!

Or better yet, tell them that you have found the 10 stacks of Romance novels, but that you are a man and would like to see some male oriented porn instead. In book form. They might direct you to a shelf entitled Erotica (in some stores less regionally influenced by Dobson’s minions)? But then, you will see only gay ‘erotica’ there. Tell the clerk that you are not gay and would rather see their collection of porn books for heterosexual men. “Sorry, Sir, we only have magazines in that genre.” My reply is always, “What? The adult entertainment business is a multi-trillion dollar one, and yet your retail establishment carries not a porn book at all, outside of the gay ones!” And in Colorado Springs, not even much of that. Moo.

So, as an atheist heterosexual porn seeker who loves foreign lit, I am kind of out of luck at these specialty retail establishments. If I was a gay person, ‘spiritually inclined’, and didn’t know that a word was ever written outside US national boundaries, I might be in better shape, it seems. Or, if I could just get more interested in reading romance novels or military history, which is where the multiple stacks are. Yes, these stores don’t really seem to know that history has been passed through, unless it circled on a planet other than USA and has been interpretted by a Republican minded citizen. Not true, you can find some Democrats, too. Like Michael Moore, perhaps? But you’ll be much better off if you like books with names like ‘Semper Fi’, etc.

All in all, these retail establishments are more Americana than a retro Fifties Diner would be. But they are not quite being bookstores by doing that. In short, your prospective reading material is being grossly censored, and that’s why so few are purchasing from the shelves, and more just seem to be sipping their Lattes and Mochas, or talking on their cell phones while inside. Borders and Ignoble seems more like a telephone booth at times, than an actual bookstore.

At this point, one might object to my comments. “‘Erotica’ should be censored by B & N. Go to an ‘adult store’ if you want such filth!” But they don’t carry books there, I will moan. “And as an atheist, go to Hell and get some books by atheists.” Or to the philosophy stacks, as I have been directed by employees. As if all philosophers were automatically atheists, lol. Sorry, I’ll just order my atheist books from the Sceptical Inquirer magazine folk, thank you. And for a good porn book, I’ll just have to write my own, it seems. Though it’ll never get published, let alone make it to the B & N.

And if I might want to know how the French care about life, I will just have to confine myself to Agatha Christie, it seems. That is after I get through with the latest from Ann Coulter I purchased at the specialty retail store. She tells it like it is about the French. And she is informative about the Arab mind, too.

Nobody reads anymore, no publishers publish anymore, and no specialty retail establishments even stock what little is still around. The last time I have seen much of interest in a bookstore/ specialty retainl establishment was in a University of Texas dorm building. They had a little used bookstore that had some used books of African writers that had been published by the African Studies Dept of the UT.

Americans once wrote great literature back before the ’50s. Unfortunately, all those works are out of print and unavailable mainly. The lit was too red, it seems. Efforts to get them reprinted have flopped miserably. We have become a specialty retail people, and not a literate one. Oops, my wife is back from the mall. Got to end my rant. Bless her heart, she bought nothing at all. Or, maybe she did and is just hiding it away from Scrooge?

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