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Bloomin' bookshops at Christmas

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  • Bloomin' bookshops at Christmas

    ...are full of a right load of old pants, aren't they?
    I've just been into the new Waterstones in Walton on Thames (somebody has to do it...) and amongst the dire autobiographies of twelve-year old popsters, emetic tomes of sporting icon bottom-kissing, fatuous self-regarding celebrity self-help books and stuff like 'The Little Book of Arson for Taoists', I spotted an entire category entitled 'Painful Lives'.
    Painful Lives????!!!!
    I mean, have we reached the nadir of prurient suffering by proxy? Is it just me, or is this kind of thing now over the limit of taste?
    Painful Lives. Not half as painful as that of the MD of Waterstones will be when I shove The Mammoth Book of Mastodons sideways up his >deleted on legal advice<.
    Sorry to moan on Mike's Q&A...
    Have you ever felt like torching a well-known book-chain, Mr Moorcock?
    I know I have.
    Humbug.
    Baaa!

  • #2
    ?!

    Who the flip are Fopp?
    \'You know my destiny?\' said Elric eagerly. \'Tell me what it is, Niun Who Knew All.\'
    Niun opened his mouth as if to speak but then firmly shut it again. \'No,\' he said. \'I have forgotten.\'

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    • #4
      Ooh, yes, I forgot about that episode.
      Smiths is a dreadful place, really - I always think of the branch in Sutton where I used to go to buy my New Scientist when I was at school: it was full of besuited types clogging up the aisles, reading PC User or BBC Model B World (this was the eighties, remember) in their lunch breaks. It was like: 'get out of the way, you anoraks! I have to read about mesons and the changing pattern of rainfall in Scandinavia!!!'
      Erm...
      Smiths always has horrible stained carpets, have you noticed?

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      • #5
        Makes me thankful for the continuing spread of Borders - better selection of books than Waterstones, and better for magazines than WHSmiths. Often gives away free chocolate with books, too.
        Arma virumque cano.

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        • #6
          I had the desultory experience of a trip to Waterstones in Chichester to look at "the sales". A copy of Gorky's autobiography (Clearance Price 7.99[!]) was the only thing that held my attention for one second. What struck me was a)not only the number of books published which are complete crap (not even worthy othe word "book" in my opinion; some new name is needed), but b) the number of sequels, rip-offs and parodies of said foul objects, e.g. The Boys' Book Of Dangerous Whatever It Is, followed The Boy's Book of How to Be the Best Of Everything, and The Boys Book Of Blah Blah Blah...ad nauseam. Then we have about 20 of the wretched things with the words Shit or Shite in the title, designed, no doubt, to sell our disgust at it all straight back to us, such as Why Is Everything Shite? (vols. 1&2), Christmas is Shite, This Shit is Shite, Why Am I In This Shite So-Called "Bookshop" Looking At All This Shite? etc, etc.

          Both my partner and I genuinely felt depressed after our visit to Waterstones. The store is considerably dumbed down to what it was when it opened several years ago. I actually went in there back then and bought a set of Samuel Beckett books published by John Calder - now I'd have to settle for the sixth in an exciting series of books about growing olives in Tuscany by the woman who played the vet's wife in All Creatures Great And Small if I wanted some cutting edge European literature!
          Last edited by Mikey_C; 01-02-2007, 10:13 AM.
          \"...an ape reft of his tail, and grown rusty at climbing, who yet feels himself to be a symbol and the frail representative of Omnipotence in a place that is not home.\" James Branch Cabell

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          • #7
            Originally posted by Kalessin
            Makes me thankful for the continuing spread of Borders - better selection of books than Waterstones, and better for magazines than WHSmiths. Often gives away free chocolate with books, too.
            I have a friend who used to work at Borders in the UK. Here is his impression of them:

            Borders are evil - they pay the minimum wage and have terrible rules - they are the WallMart of the bookselling world.

            There is a rule in the Borders Rule book about standing still - you are only allowed to stand still for 45 seconds and then you have to move. Another rule is that the salesperson - no matter how busy - must take you directly to the book you are asking for and put it in your hand and if at all possible make some intelligent comment about it. And their coffee is supplied by rainforest destroying child killing Starbucks the Mcdonalds of the Coffee business. But everyone thinks Borders is some kind of cool laid back hippy outlet for the sale of books. When we used to order books in we would always use amazon - i think customers used to think we had our own depot filled with laid back hippies being all cool and smoking hash pipes
            Of course this is entirely subjective and the staff seem to break the supposed 45 second rule quite often (at least in our branch). However, try asking somebody where a given book is in there and seeing what happens: it is very instructive...

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            • #8
              Here, thanks to some friendly anarchists, is some (5 years old) dirt on Borders. Not cool hippies at all, it appears, more of a real-life Orwellian nightmare:
              [8/26/01 - Glasgow Sunday Herald, UK] IT'S supposed to be the sedate home of book lovers, coffee drinkers and the chattering classes, but Borders, the high street bookseller, has been attacked by human rights organisations for using high-tech surveillance equipment to spy on their customers.
              The company is to become the first retailer in the world to introduce a controversial security scheme, normally used to trap football hooligans, paedophiles and terrorists, to photograph customers as they enter stores.
              SmartFace -- known as FaceIt in the USA -- keeps a database of 'unique digital face-maps' that will check customers' pictures against those of known shoplifters.
              The advanced CCTV technology can locate individual faces within crowds, track a targeted face and then match it against images of suspected criminals kept on its database.
              The American-based retailer has 11 outlets in the UK, including stores in Glasgow and Edinburgh. Only UK stores are participating in the SmartFace pilot.
              Borders has already been criticised in the UK for its attitude to unions. Marketing itself as laid-back and hip, it has been accused of operating a vigorous anti-union policy.
              In America, the company used the union-busting legal firm, Jackson, Lewis, Schnitzler & Krupman to fight bitter campaigns to destabilise unions. This included sacking activists and threatening to close stores if workers joined unions.
              \"...an ape reft of his tail, and grown rusty at climbing, who yet feels himself to be a symbol and the frail representative of Omnipotence in a place that is not home.\" James Branch Cabell

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              • #9
                Let's open a bookshop chain...
                Now all we need is a public.

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                • #10
                  I seem to recall this kind of bookseller being cruelly parodied on Black Books some years back, to moderately hilarious effect.

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                  • #11
                    A little irony: From what I understand, the original Borders (before attempts at world domination) was a bit of a anti-corporate hangout in decidedly progressive Ann Arbor, MI.

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                    • #12
                      I thought Borders was now owned by Crown, as Waterstones is no longer controlled by Tim W. They buy a brand, after all, with a specific image in order to expand markets (that's the logic). Frequently, as with publishers (like Murdoch) the whole process is in order to snaffle that brand's 'market share'. What they never seem to get is that the 'market share' isn't buying a brand, as such, but giving its custom to a company which suits them because of what it's selling. This goes on all the time, these days. I still see baffled old folk wondering why trusted brands don't seem to provide them with what they want any more (apart from the comforts of familiarity).

                      Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
                      The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
                      Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


                      Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
                      The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
                      Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

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