Monday, October 13, 2008

In Which I Realize What a Bad Person I Am for Patronizing a Chain Bookseller

"Hi," I said, walking up to the employee at the desk on the second floor in the literary nonfiction section of the big chain bookstore out by the mall. "Do you have the new Best American Essays?"

"Is that, like ... a book?"

Yes, my good man, it is exactly like a book. In fact, it is a book! Even though it is National Sarcasm Awareness Month (and thanks to the fabulous Miss Conduct for the notice!), I keep this observation to myself. I really want that ... book thingy.

"Yes, it's a series that's published annually. I think this year it will be Best American Essays 2008."

He types it in on the computer, with Ben and me looking over his shoulder.

"Yep, it's in stock," he says. "It's downstairs by the main information desk."

I sigh audibly for his benefit (I am a jerk) and head down the escalator. How can you not have at least a copy or two of Best American Essays in your essay section? I realize I am about to support, though my patronage, both this bizarre shelving scheme and the hiring of employees who have to think about whether something called Best American Essays is a book. I feel even worse because I heard this volume was available though the email newsletter of an independent bookstore that I love, but that is also a good 40 minutes from my house. I am a jerk, and lazy, and a bad, unreflective consumer.

Two take-aways:
  1. Best American Essays 2008 (yes, I did buy it) totally rocks, about which more soon.

  2. Find and patronize your local independent bookstore. Do it even when it's inconvenient and more expensive. The aggravation (and guilt) you save may be your own.