30 October 2005

Don't they have to take some sort of literacy test?

Maud has been posting some very interesting thoughts on the perverse nature of modern bookstores:
If booksellers and publishers can’t even coordinate to get books into the stores by the time they’re being reviewed, it’s no wonder sales of everything but the likes of Harry Potter, The Da Vinci Code, and The Purpose-Driven Life are down.
Even more disturbing, it seems that there are bignamebookstore employees who don't know their ass from their A.S. Byatt:
Today was the day. The day that a new novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez was due for sale in bookstores. I show up at Barnes and Noble at 10:30am on my break and begin scouring the New Fiction tables for the book. I don't see it anywhere. So I ask one of the workers for help.

"Excuse me- I heard the new book by Marquez would be for sale today. Is that true? I don't see it."
"By who?"

Okay. We're already off to a bad start. It is my not-so-humble opinion that you shouldn't be working in a bookstore if you have to ask, "Marquez who?". Put your hands in the air. Drop the books and no one gets hurt. There's a job waiting for you at Sam Goody over at the mall. Now get outta here.

He goes to the computer. "What was the author's name again?"
Sigh. With infinite patience I say again, "Gabriel. Garcia. Marquez." I resist the urge to run to the cash register and buy this guy One Hundred Years of Solitude. If I thought he would put down his John Grisham paperback long enough to read it, I would consider it a worthwhile investment.

Crap. I knew he was going to ask that, the clueless git. Under my breath, "memoriesofmymelancholywhores."
"Memories of My Melancholy Whores." He looks over at my belly judgmentally. I'm not being sensitive, shut up, he did! "Yes, I'm seven months pregnant and I'm reading a book about sad whores, okay? It's not a romance novel, it's by a Noble Prize winning author who...nevermind."

"Oh, is he the guy who wrote that Oprah book?" Yeah, now I have to murder him. In the parking lot. Just as soon as his shift ends. "Ahhh, here it is. We just don't have it out on the tables yet. Let me go get you a copy."

And that, friends, is how I walked away with the very first copy sold of Marquez's new novel at my local Barnes and Noble. Next time I'm going to Full Circle. I guarantee you every single employee at Full Circle knows my good friend, Gabo.
"The guy who wrote that Oprah book."

God help me.


the teaching assistant said...

Oh, dear. Another extremely perverse thing is that when I'm in a bookstore, I can never find authors like Gabriel García Márquez or Federico García Lorca or Emilia Pardo Bazán where they are should be located according to proper alphabetization by last name. I've always got to resort to looking under Márquez, Lorca, and Bazán, even in the foreign language section of my university's official bookstore. I never know where I'll end up finding Lope de Vega or Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, either... This doesn't change whether I look for the works of these authors in Spanish or in translation.

amcorrea said...

Thank you for bringing this up! (I gritted my teeth and overlooked the omitted accent marks for the sake of the story, but it *was* difficult to get past the use of the mother's maiden name...)

In my stint as a proofreader at an educational publisher in Boston, I consider my greatest achievement to have been moving Gabo's name from M to G in a social studies index!

You're completely right. It's a wonder that U.S. "politically correct" society can still have megabookstores that don't know how to shelve internationally famous authors.

Kait said...

Ohhhh yes! I hear ya! My Spanish emphasis is San Juan de la Cruz. I NEVER know where to look for him, especially since he also goes by "Saint John of the Cross." I also have quite a bit of trouble with San Juan's fellow mystic, Santa Teresa de Avila. When will they learn?

amcorrea said...

Yes, it's awful.

Although, knowing dear Teresa's difficulties with gravity, it doesn't surprise me that she's hard to pin down on bookshelves. :)