I had a free Saturday evening for once, since the wife and child had prior engagements. I could have cranked out a bestselling novel, but I went to my dealer instead. In other words, the bookstore.
I don’t have a local Independent. The nearest Indy is in Charlotte, and not my usual hangout. Nope, I’m a mall kid at heart, so I traipsed on over to our local,Concord Mills, the biggest mall in North Carolina.
Our local big box book dealer is Booksamillion, or BAM as the six million emails they send me a week say. I don’t loathe BAM(I will write it this way because it’s easier) the way I do B&N, and at least this one tries to support local authors.And at least BAM might hire back some day. Though BAM does have its annoying program, “Summer Says”, where a WASP-y woman tells you what she likes. I have no idea who this lady is, but rumor has it she’s married to the CEO of the company.
I went to BAM because their latest missive had promised 20% off to Millionaire’s club members. I am a member, mainly because it helps ease the cost of my current addiction,metal music magazines. I love metal music and journalism, so the things are like crack to me. And the best ones are imports, so it gets pricey.
I’d also gone in to see if they’d price match their 50% off price on Amanda Palmer’s book, The Art of Asking. I was going to wait for Yule,but that’s too good a price to last. Well it had gone up since Friday morning,so it wasn’t that price online anymore(Disappointment #1. Annoyed, I grabbed my mags and headed to the counter, only to find you had to do some magic involving a tote bag and twenty-five dollars to get the extra discount(Disappointment #2).I left feeling angry, and skipped my usual people watching.
What got my attention and spawned this post, is that all of Palmer’s books were signed. The store also offered signed books by Poehler and Rothfuss, both new releases. It made me wonder, what’s the point of getting signed books anymore?
I’m not against getting books signed. Hell, I have an entire shelf of them. But all of them are signed to me, because I made the effort to go see these people in person. I had a brief moment with people whose works have given me joy,made me think, and in two cases, changed my life.I can tell you when and where every one of those were signed. So those have meaning.
What I don’t get is getting generic signed items. It’s never been a plus to anything I’ve ever bought, ever. Maybe some of you think”Ooh, the author touched it,shiny.”. But I think the sheer number of signed books cheapens the concept. It’s kind of like the difference between a date that ended, and cheap sex in a nightclub bathroom. One is a memory, the other is forgettable and disposable. I’d rather not have my books become cheap and sleazy. That’s my job, thank you.And honestly, how sure can you be they actually signed it. I checked Palmer’s,they were all different. But Poehler’s all looked identical.Go look up what a “Rapido” device is, folks.
I should mention that there is a big difference between the stuff BAM is doing and what’s called “signed stock”. Those are when an author has stopped in a store, maybe done an event, and signed copies of his/her books. I do think those are different, somehow. I’m sure someone will mock me for my illogic, but as the man once said, consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.
I do think there’s a market to be made in offering to get books personally signed and shipped. I just wish people would center on connections, and not superficial tokens.There’s enough superficiality in the world, let’s not let it into books as well.