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A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

2 down...

So one Borders in Sacramento, CA is closing.  The employees found out when the signage package about the closing arrived to be put in the windows.  And now I see that store #97 in Gaithersburg, MD is closing as well.  The first time I visited the Gaithersburg store I walked out around 5 miles from the Shady Grove Metro stop, but later discovered that there were quick buses I could take.  Over the years, the store suffered from very inept management.  The receiving room was very slow so books were frequently not put out until after the first couple weeks on sale, thus costing sales.  The shelves were messy.  In recent years they hybridized the sf section shelving in such a way that it didn't have any usable backstock, so the shelves were always too crowded, and then they would go through and do store-initiated returns to clear up space, so they were frequently without books they were supposed to have.  It got to the point that I'd only stop by at that store because those buses then went 5 miles further out to a Borders in Germantown that grew in leaps and bounds.  When it first opened it was one of the stores that was skipped for books like the mass market of GUARDS OF HAVEN by Simon Green or CODE OF CONDUCT by Kristine Smith, but its business took off until it became a major sf/fantasy store for Borders while the Gaithersburg store withered away.  I'm not going to miss store #97, but does it make sense to take the Ride-On just to visit #384?  Do I still stop in the nabe to vist the Waldenbooks that continues to exist in the Lake Forest Mall across the street?  Philosophically I should be sad that Borders #97 is closed after 13 years, but isn't there a saying "good riddance to bad garbage?"  I feel bad for the employees who might have been doing their best, but I hope that the GM(s) who helped to mismanage the store into the trash heap of history won't be given new assignments.  Of course, the way the world works any hard-working employees will probably be put into the trash heap of history while the managers get to go on and ruin some other store.

Let me know if you hear of any other stores that are closing.  This article on a store closing in Cincinnati suggests that there are 5 scheduled to close in January, with stores in Santa Monica, CA, and  Tempe, AZ rounding out the list.  Santa Monica is the other that I've visited, and in its heyday it was quite successful.  I wonder if that's a lease expiring with more rent than a bookstore can pay?  If there are only 5 shuttering I'd consider that better than I'd predicted, but it remains to be seen if any post-holiday assessments will lead to more in March.


Lynxswift said...

I have always wondered what the preferance was toward Borders? Surely you must have visited an equal or greater number of Barnes & Nobles in your travels? Or is this one of those industry things that you can't speak about? I'm still sad they closed the B&Ns on Astor Pl. and the one on 22nd St. :(. I liked those better than the Union Square one.

biblioarchy said...

Add Galesburg, Illinois to the list...Walden store closing. Thanks for the great article and please keep the store closing updates coming.

Lisa Iriarte said...

Not noticing any stores closing at this point, but seeing some really good sales. Our local Books a Million had a buy two get one free in the young adult section and a buy three get one free on some of the adult literature, mostly romance, but I think they are planning on extending it to other genres. I also noticed that when I bought my kids three books, the free one wasn't the cheapest one. It was the middle one. I don't know if this was an oversight or policy, but it was nice.

On a totally different note, just read Adam-Troy Castro's book Emissaries From the Dead. (I review every book I read on my blog, though I know you're far too busy to read a million fans' blogs.) So, I'll sum it up here. I didn't know you were the agent until after I'd bought it. And I really enjoyed the mystery, the alien cultures, and eventually the main character. I'm hoping for more books. Is that the first of a series? It sounds like one.

On the downside, typos. I'm not sure what happened, but there was an unusual number of typos in that particular book, and when I say unusual, I mean like every two or three pages or so. And please, do not think I'm criticizing you or the author. I have enough friends in the field (and written enough of my own)to know that the manuscript gets gone over dozens (if not hundreds) of times by the author, the agent, and the editor during revisions, proofs, ARC's, etc. So, my question is, how does something like that happen? Does an earlier draft accidentally go to print? And just as a side note, do the author and agent look at the finished product, or are they, by then, so sick of the story that they can't bear to ever look at it again?

The Brillig Blogger said...

I can't explain why Adam's book would have so many typos. As you say a lot of people really do try and track all of these down. I know sometimes I don't notice a typo until after I've printed out, and we all sometimes see what's supposed to be there instead of what is when we "know" what is supposed to be there.

I went to school in Ann Arbor and first shopped at the original Borders in 1982. Less so now than once upon a time, but Borders used to have a lot more variety in store selection and in architecture than B&N did, so I had personal fondness from my college days and somewhat more of a sense of discovery walking into a Borders. Even now, every time I walk into one of those 2-level atrium B&N stores with the escalators in the middle I'm filled with a deep sense of ennui and deja vu.