Monday, March 28, 2011

The Indignity of the Remainder Table

I'm not a big fan of bookstores.

Let me clarify: I'm not a big fan of big chain bookstores.* Small bookshops, especially those with live cats (we have two indie shops with feline "employees" in Lawrence), are great. Used bookstores are heaven. I've blogged about them before.

One staple of the big chain store is the remainder table.

How depressing.

Last week, as part of spring break, we spent a short stint in Kansas City. I took the boys to a bookstore (plenty to look at and they were pumped). I picked up a $2 book on a remainder table and read the bio of the author. Her short fiction credits included The New Yorker, Zoetrope...big names. The cover even heralded "New York Times Bestselling Author".

On a remainder table. For $2.


I dream of a world with no remainder tables. An unexpected bonus of the e-book, I suppose.

*I do feel bad for all those folks who lost their jobs with Borders.*

**But I have a friend, a rabid book lover, who thumbs his nose at the other big chain bookstore in Lawrence but he loves Borders. Really? I can't really understand.


Tony said...

I've always been torn on subjects like these. As an author, I hate seeing books get passed over and sold for a buck when they don't do well.

As a reader, however, I love finding deals. I've always been a fan of the small used book stores for that reason, among others.

It's a hard spot to be in. I want to support writers, but I'm also broke. :-/

Aaron Polson said...

I agree about the deals. Funny how being a writer puts a weird spin on the whole thing. Working at a bookstore (big chain) soured me on them, too.

Jeremy D Brooks said...

I hit a local Borders last week...empty shelves, people bidding on furniture. Depressing. As much as I dig small bookstores (we're painfully short of those in Vegas), I can't hate on any store that sells books...I just love the sight of acres of books. I remember the first time I walked into Powell's in Portland...awesome.

Katey said...

I feel bad for the employees, like you, but I don't feel bad for Borders. MY Borders back home closing, that hurts. But that's another story for another time.

I find myself agreeing with Jeremy, though. I can't actively HATE anyone who sells books. I'll always choose the little one over the big one, always, because you'll just find more interesting books. But... books.

Katey said...

Wait no, I do actively hate Wal-Mart. And these days Target is on my list too. But you know what I mean.

S. Williams said...

Playing devils advocate you did pick up a book and got exposed to an author you might never of run into otherwise.

Aaron Polson said...

Jeremy/Katey - So I don't really "hate" bookstores. But, of course, you know what I mean. And Wal-Mart? Yeah. I'm there (with the hate).

Aaron Polson said...

S - Nope. But I'm a very fickle book-buyer.

K.C. Shaw said...

I've discovered some of my favorite authors from remainder tables, library sales, and bargain bins of all kinds. I feel bad for the authors too, but hey--at least they got the contract in the first place. That's more than most people ever get.

Milo James Fowler said...

I think I've bought* more books** since getting Gizmo (my Kindle) than I ever have before. It's always been the public library for me.

*(with Amazon gift cards)
**(eBooks, that is--one of them being fairly Loathsome and another being quite Strange)

Aaron Polson said...

K.C. - True. The remainder table just seems so...sad. Like skid row for books.

Milo - And some Loathsome/Strange people thank you, too. I'm loving my Kindle.

Simon Kewin said...


Yeah, it is sad to see that. Hopefully it works, though, and people do try books at the knockdown price they wouldn't normally have tried?

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