Leftover Books

I was in Austin’s Bookpeople, a giant amongst independent bookstores, and I noticed that a favorite Shakespeare biography was remaindered. Out front, all lonely on the table, such a giant of a book, well-received, and now? Cheap at half the price.

(BookPeople bathroom sign)

Sunday morning, I was reading comics online. Bounce back to Saturday’s BookPeople quick stop, on the remaindered table, inside between “new releases” and “staff favorites,” there was a couple of copies of various Bucky Kat collections.

When I have a few moments, preferably in the morning, I like to read the comic strip. I used to get a newspaper, and when the Austin paper didn’t carry “Get Fuzzy,” or me, I dropped my subscription. Been years now. Never missed it.

But I can’t read comics every morning. Some days, there isn’t time, and I rarely have the luxury of real newspaper anymore. It’s not socially responsible. The bias is sometimes obvious, and then there’s the little problem with late news. I read most of the headlines, the night before. Print isn’t all that attractive for some news, not with the immediacy and democratic sense of the web’s versions.

Yet, as I was looking and thinking about those books, remaindered, out there, lost and unloved, that points to some of the problems. The single, biggest complaint I have about that particular comic’s web host it that there are some of the most annoying pop-under ads. Just because of the annoyance factor alone, I’ll never try Netflix. Not exactly unscrupulous, but I find it too annoying. If your advertising is that annoying, I definitely won’t try the product.

Two Meat Tuesday (the book)
(cure for the common horoscope)

I’m not sure how I would react. I haven’t checked lately, I’m unsure of how my book is selling at Whole Life Book on South Lamar. Trendy South Lamar. Really, just less than a mile south of Book People. Ask any mid-list, or, in my case, bottom-list author, this isn’t a way to make a living.

What got me thinking until my mind took that detour, was the favorite author’s work, be it academic (mainstream) biography, or more amusing, but equally appropriate, cartoons. That cartoonist, in order to make a buck, he gets to recycle what he sells. He can sell it more than once. In some cases, from what I’ve seen, the work can be poignant, topical and timely. Means it’s made for a specific point in time. Other cases, though, well, comics are like that, episodic in nature. Still, seeing his work on the remainder table – that’s got to hurt. Means it didn’t sell as well as predicted. Also means, sometimes, that the artist doesn’t get paid.

I could be wrong about the book business. But then, too, there’s a space problem. I’ve got several books with that cartoon cat. In as much as I’ve enjoyed the experience, I’ve bought the first couple of books, as encouragement. But after the pop-under ads? Not so much. Besides, the strip seems to be well-syndicated now, I’m sure it’s okay – I doubt my sale will be missed. Of course, I lost another subscriber yesterday, and that means I’ve got to cut the spending someplace.

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