Friday, September 7, 2012

our gig and bookstore sitting

Serendipity. I left the computer after opening this link and now can't remember where from, but the story, Bookstore-sitting gig: Not so charming? and cautions, have a familiar ring to them. Wendy Welch of Tales of the Lonesome Pine bookshop in Virginia is looking for a bookstore-sitter. Gushing book columnists from LA to NPR adore the advert for bargain basement help...

Another bookstore proprietor, Scott Brown in Eureka CA disagrees with the sentiment, writing...
"I reject the notion that going into bookselling should be like taking a vow of poverty," he writes. "The editor who bought the book gets a paycheck, health benefits, paid vacation, and a retirement contribution, as does the publicist, marketing manager, etc. They aren't working for love." 
"Nor is the company that will print the book, nor are the employees who work the presses. Nor is the company that manufactured the paper. They all expect to get paid. And rightly so."
Brown writes that the idea that a bookstore-sitter should be an unpaid serf at the bottom of book lovers' food chain is "an insulting and intellectually bankrupt view." That's a good point.
 The idea he rebuts is a familiar one...
Ms. Welch's basic idea is that bookstores are idyllic community resources free from the taint of lucre. "What WE booksellers do is important...WE represent an open market of free ideas, with value tied to meaning more than money," she writes (emphasis added, to show that she pretends to talk for all of us). In another post she says, presumably implying vows of poverty and years of penance done at the store, "Bookslinging is a hard way of life, but boy it’s a good one....WE’re like nuns and monks..."
Shades of Chaucer's Clerke... "And gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."

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