Monday, August 22, 2011

Truth is Stranger Than Science Fiction

The Olentangy River Road Barnes and Noble in Columbus, Ohio hasn't sold science fiction digests for many, many years.

Not Analog. Not Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. Not Fantasy and Science Fiction. Month after month, year after year.

Because I'm incorrigibly optimistic, I occasionally ask a Barnes and Noble employee working at the Information desk about the policy. The answers I'm given are vague:

"Ask the person who orders the magazines - Curtis" - I've done that.

"All the magazine decisions are made at corporate headquarters."

"They don't sell here". Of course they don't. They're not on the shelf to sell. Besides, most of the seemingly thousands of magazine titles on the Barnes and Noble shelves don't "sell". They're returnable. They're still made available if a customer wants them, though.

I'm reminded of the story writer Mark Evanier told of finding no Disney comics on the rack of a comic book store. A paraphrase:

M. Evanier: "I don't see any Disney comics for sale in your store."
Store owner: "They don't sell here."
M. Evanier: "What happened to the ones you had before?"
Store owner: "We sold 'em."

My most recent discussion was with a gentleman in his early twenties (let's call him Bob) who asked if I ever get on the internet.

No, I can't, I'm too old and decrepit.

I was writing code, Bob,  while you were running around in your Transformers pajamas, slurping Cap'n Crunch. I had a website for my indie comics in '96 when you were listening to your older brother's "MMMBop" CD.

Bob then wondered if I know that I can read those magazines online. Yeah, I think I know that.

Although recent evidence points to readers retaining more memory of what they've read when it was read on paper as opposed to online (see the article "Print vs. Online" from this week's Slate, for example: ), there is, nonetheless, general agreement that the hard copy book, newspaper and magazine industries will eventually be servicing boutique markets.

In the meantime, the only reason Bob's morter store job exists is because of customers wishing to purchase text printed on paper.

Are Barnes and Noble employees encouraged to direct customers away from their stores?

Now that Borders Bookstore (which always carried all of the science fiction digests) has left the book seller landscape, it would be awesome if Barnes and Noble, which for all practical purposes has a monopoly on bookstores in central Ohio, would carry long-running magazines like these which are available nowhere else in the area.

Analog is, as of 2011, the longest running continuously published magazine of that genre, initially published in 1930 in the United States as the pulp magazine Astounding Stories.

It'd be cool if I could buy it at the Lennox.

If you live in the area and would like to purchase science fiction digests at the Olentangy River Road Barnes and Noble, give the company a call at 614-298-9516.
Pin It

No comments: