July 22, 2004

Border Incident

I generally find something new to amuse me each time I go in to a Borders. Perhaps it's the diet book that winds up in the History section because it's called The History of Flab and How to Rewrite It or something. Or perhaps it's the prominent display of Holy Blood, Holy Grail in a section called Metaphysical Studies. I've already written about the Untranslated Literature section. I can't explain why it's funny. It just is.

Today I noticed that they had put up, in the Fiction and Literature section, little signs with arrows pointing to where books by your favorite authors might be found. An arrow pointing to the left had these names:

And underneath another arrow pointing to right were these:

In other words, if you're looking for Thomas Hardy's latest, and you're not all that clear on the whole alphabetical order thing, Borders has the solution. Fiction and Literature navigation has never been so easy. Now people will know without asking: if you want to find Joyce you turn left at Kafka.

In fact, though, even if you have mastered the mysteries of the alphabet, it can still be tough to find stuff at Borders. For example, today I was pretty shocked to find no P. G. Wodehouse at all in the Fiction and Literature section. My first thought was to look under J., because it wasn't out of the question that people who like to put diet books under History when they have the word "history" in their titles might think it fun to file Fiction and Literature by the names of prominent characters occasionally. But that wasn't it.

Finally I asked the Information desk guy, and he directed me to the Games and Humor section on the fourth floor. It all worked out in the end, so I really have no grounds for complaint. But I will say that a world that banishes P. G. Wodehouse from its fancy, hifalutin Fiction and Literature section, but leaves Bleachy-Haired Honky Bitch in it, is not a world of which I can whole-heartedly approve.

Posted by Dr. Frank at July 22, 2004 08:56 PM | TrackBack

It's apparently a chain-wide decision to put the Wodehouse in the humor/games section. I remember being a little nonplussed a few years ago to find the Jeeves Omnibus in such close proximity to the Uncle John's Bathroom Readers.

Posted by: Paul at July 22, 2004 09:58 PM

yes,sadly to my understanding,much of the time literture in the plain fiction area isn't allowed to be fun anymore. its a good portion these people and their dysfunctionally bourgeoise lives.
ones that i have no desire or care to have any more information about.

maybe this is only new to me but maybe it isn't,
anything that steps outside this realm seems to
be label as "genre writing". that's how editors refer to it anyways,don't know what kind of
entertaining arrangement Borders would have for
such things. when i get around to the desire for a new book i usually go to small used bookstores or the library anyways so that's not a concern.: )

Posted by: just me at July 23, 2004 06:17 AM

Well, there are always those computer kiosks scattered throughout the store where you can look up a title and have it tell you where it is if they have it in stock. Of course, most of the times that I have used the kiosk (and I repeat the word because, really, "kiosk" is a great word) it has pointed me in the wrong direction and I've ended up having to ask a human being anyway.

Posted by: Brian at July 23, 2004 01:43 PM

"Turn Left at Kafka" would be a good song title.

Posted by: Angie Schultz at July 23, 2004 03:20 PM

Librarians know how to do it. Wodehouse will always be in the Fiction section at the library!

Posted by: christina at July 23, 2004 03:36 PM

Here's an intriguing thought: Frank, do you ever find yourself wandering over to the music section and surreptitiously moving the MTX albums to either a more visible area or out of the Heavy Metal section and into the pop/rock section. Also, if you want to see an alphabetizing nightmare, visit your local Blockbuster (*cringes*). Just think how many people would break down and have a good cry if Borders and Barnes and Noble were to go to a card catalogue and the Dewey Decimal System.

Posted by: Zaphod Beeblebrox at July 23, 2004 05:42 PM

pg wodehouse and dave barrry...theyre the same, right?

Posted by: nick at July 23, 2004 07:29 PM

I have often stood in the middle of the store, paralyzed with indecision at whether the book I'm interested in reading qualifies yet as "Literature" with a capital L, or if I should feel ashamed and just go look in the humor, or sci-fi, or cooking section.

It's a good thing they sell cappucino and scones or I'd likely starve while trying to decide.

Posted by: dave bug at July 23, 2004 09:36 PM

I always start in the computer technical manuals, then somehow wander into magazines and slowly degenerate into comic books/graphic novels. It's like de-evolution is happening right there in the bookstore! HA!

Posted by: Zaphod Beeblebrox at July 24, 2004 01:49 AM

ah you mean the Books Movies Are Made From
section. that's always a good place to be.
by the by i am aware that my last post showed
zero ability to form a readable paragraph.
well -i- can read it but it looks as though
the computer was not my friend that day.
hopefully it is today.

-beth and stuff

Posted by: just me at July 24, 2004 08:17 PM

Borders suffers from the fact that its staff don't usually know anything about books, and they often have an attitude I associate with stringy hair and nose rings. They make some weird decisions about what to have in stock, too. Martin Wolf's new book "Why Globalization Works" got a rave review in the Economist.


I called the Borders a block from my office, at State and Randolph in Chicago, right downtown. There are probably thousands of Economist subscribers within a mile. "We don't carry it." I pondered this and decided that some lefty saw the title, didn't like it, and decided not to stock it.

Posted by: Lexington Green at July 25, 2004 04:37 AM

hey hey hey, its not like people choose to have stringy hair. nose rings maybe but come on, have some decency sir.

(barnes and noble employees are much worse than borderses)

Posted by: myke at July 25, 2004 05:29 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?