Tag Archives: Barnes and Noble

Karl Rove shows face in Colo. round 1

Karl Rove book signing at Denver Barnes and Noble April 17, 2010
DENVER- Karl Rove signed books with impunity today, but not many, and not without irreverent walk-ins (the line was so short, so their cameras didn’t fire up before they were already being escorted outside). Denver Police were called on the sign-bearers outside, but unlike the Rove handlers and Barnes & Noble staff, they were amenable to negotiation.

Karl Rove book signing at Denver Barnes and Noble April 17, 2010

Karl Rove book signing at Denver Barnes and Noble April 17, 2010

Karl Rove book signing at Denver Barnes and Noble April 17, 2010

Military fiction, publishing as product takes us further downhill to total cultural illiteracy

photoWhen Americans step inside the big chain publishers’ bookstores, Barnes and Noble and Borders, they are almost always under the delusion that they are inside real bookstores containing real books. Nothing could be farther from the truth though. We instead have merely entered into the realm of publishing as product.

What do I mean by ‘publishing as product’? The answer simply put is that publishing historically was an act of putting an art form in front of the art appreciating public. That art form was called literature and you had to read to get it. Publishing was never a pure process without politics, but far from it as politics was essential to what often got published, and what did not. But todays publishing world is far different than that of the past. What does the American literature reading public run into today?

Today’s publishing world has as much to do with art (literature) as McDonald’s has to do with cooking (culinary arts). Content inside the big publishing firms today is handled like a product, not an art that has high impact on politics and national culture. Conservative businessmen still limit what gets published and what does not, but the censorship involves not censuring and disallowing individual radical authors, but censoring and disallowing entire product lines. To cover up this censorship, a whole new group of alternative products have been developed to better hide the fact that real literature is no longer a product to be carried on the shelves.

As an avid book reader since I was a kid, I have been going into America’s bookstores for 1/2 a century which has allowed me to see this devolution in process on a continual basis. So let me name a few of the new publishing product lines that have displaced the old book shelves that once were partially inhabited, at least some, by novels in translation from other parts of the world.

Americans have always been an ethnocentric society and that has been always encouraged by conservative publishers who published mainly American authors. But where once stood Steinbeck and Zola, now stands shelves after shelves of books under other categories of products instead of just Fiction , all now directed to a population segmented by market research science laboratories. We now have Gay Literature, Christian Literature, and the latest grouping something called Military Literature. Further, one finds literature now very much separated into gender categories (Thanks, Oprah! See what you helped do?). Of course, as a remnant of the ’60s we have tiny sections of Black Fiction, Chicano Fiction, Native American Fiction, though not Black Fiction from elsewhere than the US, Latin American fiction from elsewhere than the US, or Native American fiction from say Guatemala or Peru.

We also have oodles of shelves with product lines directed to UFO believers, New Age dabblers, fascist talk show lovers, ‘self help’ addicts, and this new grouping identified for product line identity sales, the US military grunt fan club of all that is weaponry and war. Hence comes ‘Military Fiction’.

There is nothing really modern about this since Hollywood keyed in on this crowd since way back even before John Wayne. (Kids, if you don’t know who John Wayne is, then text message some Dude who might know and ask him?) What is new is to see this product line as marked out, pushed, and delineated as it is today. We shall all be corporately sliced and diced down to our very genes, it seems…

So who are the ‘writers’ for this new product line called Military Fiction? Here they are in Barnes and Nobles, War and Military Fiction division. Notice all those B&N sub-divisions of this hither before non-existent category of Fiction. Notice how they tossed in Vonnegut and Hemingway to make the new product line look less superficial than it really is?

Can you imagine this sort of thing in French, Italian, or German bookstores? They don’t have half their countries’ populations working for the military-security-industrial complex though. Personally, I can see a future reduction int he Christian Fiction and Christian Non-Fiction product lines, and and even larger spread of product items in the War and Military Fiction and Non-Fiction departments. Maybe even an ICE Fiction product line, too? And Private Military Contractor Fiction area?

Meanwhile, culturally, the US heads toward being a total illiterate wasteland in the publishing of real literature in the English language, especially in the translation of foreign authors of note. The worst of all this, is that almost all those entering into these warehouses of bookfood products think that they are part of the educated just by being there among the shelves of what??? … shelves of trash. All the books have been replaced by artificial-alterficial-superficial bookfood, or spam of lit. This delusion of education being sold at the bookfood warehouses is the phoniest product line of them all.

Oh, and that photo that led off this commentary? That is a promotion from a category of bookfood called ‘Women’s Military Fiction’, which is a combo of Romance, pseudo Feminism, and Pentagon Pro-war propaganda? Here is Lindsay McKinna’s website promo comments about her bookfood.

‘Lindsay McKenna (A.K.A. Eileen Nauman) is the best-selling author of Valkyrie and 75 fiction books in the last 20 years. Known as the “Top Gun of Women’s Military Fiction,” she created the sub-genre of military adventure/romance and covers a mainstream women’s market having sold over 10 million books worldwide.’

Who needs international literature in American bookstores when there is this sort of crap to sell? That’s why literature by authors from other countries just really is not there anymore. It has been replaced by bookfood spam.