Sunday, December 12, 2010

Dollar Store Books

I used to feel sorry for the authors whose books I saw at the dollar store.

Surely, seeing one's work at the dollar store must feel like the nadir of a career. One's work, once proudly published and touted and read by notables, now on the shelf below the cheaply-produced Bible word search puzzle books that seem to be the dollar store's literary mainstay.

But I go there a lot. And I bring a fair amount of books home. And though I'm sure the authors don't get much -- or any -- commission from the dollar I spend on their words, I'd like them to know, in a small way, that their words are appreciated.

Reading right now William Poundstone's "Gaming the Vote." Probably shouldn't. I'm already pretty skeptical of the political process, politicians, political pundits and the like, and what I've read thusfar isn't helping. Well, it's helping in the way that now any time I see James Carville on the TV, my reaction now has shifted from "Hey, who's the toady bald guy" to "laugh, clown, laugh," fitting in well with my life axiom: "Beware Bald Men." Just the opening chapter of Poundstone's book describing how Edwin Edwards gamed the system to become Governor of Louisiana several times too many, once with Carville's help, just made me want to shriek.

But I'll keep reading.

Found a lot of good books at the dollar store, which is why I keep going back to the shelves almost every time we go there. I'm not really sure I need to be introducing more books into the house, but they keep on coming in.

Will there ever be a market for used electronic books, I wonder? Given the current state of piracy and the screaming of copyright infringement, probably not. There's a fundamental flaw in the honesty of humanity that will prevent the sharing or selling of used e-books for at least the next hundred years, and probably beyond that. Being an author, I can understand -- but as a consumer who hasn't bought a new book in years and who revels in the good find at the dollar store and the thrift store, I have to think: I buy my words as cheaply as I can. I'm part of the problem, though not a pirate or an infringer.

I can at least pass on the word, though, that William Poundstone writes a mean political analysis. Maybe in some way that's helpful. But in the big scheme of things, probably it's useless.

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