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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.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Separation Anxiety

There just isn't much in my life so far that's leaving a hole in my existence the way the Borders bankruptcy is. Several years ago it would have been exciting on so many levels to see that Bouchercon is in Cleveland in 2012, and Albany in 2013. Never been to Cleveland, could have added at least a few Borders to my count, now I'm just looking at the date in early October and realizing I'd be going to Cleveland without even the chance of seeing a game at Jacobs Field, or whatever it is they're calling it these days. I need a new hobby, or something. And I can't see myself delighting in conquesting new art museums, or new Starbucks.

I wish B&N were any kind of a substitute, but it's not. And B&N is just getting more boring, less interesting, to me with each passing day. I've never liked their basic Front of Store fixturing as much, I hate those damned octagons. And they're reducing orders, reducing title counts. Their strength against Borders was that they did a better, more consistent job of stocking core series across a full range of their stores, they'd be the place that would have all the Deathstalker books and all the Blood books when Borders would be the place that had the weird gaps of not carrying books #1 and book #4 at various stores. Now I can't count on every B&N to have the entire Nightside series by Simon Green. Maybe I'm being old in my thinking, because Charlaine Harris and Brandon Sanderson and Peter Brett have stormed past my other clients, but I don't see Tanya Huff or Elizabeth Moon or Simon Green as doing appreciably worse now, not at all. They've been leapfrogged over, but I'm still reasonably certain that a typical B&N should have better selections on all three than they are. And even with Charlaine, B&N stopped carrying her Wolfsbane & Mistletoe anthology, which has been selling several dozen copies on Bookscan week-in and week-out without B&N, which means it should be at B&N.

So, no, I don't want to spend my life traveling around visiting B&Ns. With Borders, I could kind of afford to have the thrill of the hunt with walking into a bad one with a bad selection because at least I knew there was another chain with a more consistent selection, or maybe even a better Borders in the area. Now, if I visit a bad B&N, it'll just be depressing.

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