Did you know Hastings is still in business and has actual, factual, brick and mortar stores? Most of the Hastings in Albuquerque have closed their doors forever and only sell things during their annual transformation into Spirit Halloween stores. Kind of like caterpillars to moths, except the moths are decorated in skulls and sexy nurses.
Anyway, I was at the Hastings here in town last night and got to experience their new philosophy of shoving old CDs, books, DVDs and VHS tapes into the back of the store and calling it good. It’s a bunch of monolithic shelves packed full of all the music you thought was cool in the 90s and a whole slew of bands you’ve never heard of. Ditto for the book, DVD, and VHS sections. If your dream is to own a vintage copy of Corky and the Mongoloids’ debut album, this is the place for you. You can also find multiple copies of The Cranberries Everyone Else Is Doing It. You know, that album with that one song that you liked? I counted seven copies and there were probably more.
The book section is less chock full of treasures, unless you consider Rush Limbaugh’s eponymous “See I Told You So” a masterful work of scathing insight. Personally, I find more insight on the backs of cereal boxes, but to each their own.
While I was perusing the book section two things dawned on me. First, this is where old books go to die. How much would it suck, as an author, to walk through a store and see rows of your book on the shelf with $.99 closeout stickers on them and realize that even though your book was selling for less than a dollar, people still wouldn’t buy it? This immediately led to my second revelation: there will only ever be exactly ZERO copies of my book lining the shelves of the closeout bin, because it never even made it to print.
Which begs the question: If the closeout rack is where old books go to die, what does that make the Amazon Kindle store? It must be some kind of strange Purgatory for books, a place where they are neither alive nor dead. Maybe it would be better to think of the Kindle store in quantum terms. In the Kindle Store, a book is both alive and dead until someone buys it or an author deletes it, either way the quantum wave form collapses and the book becomes real for a time.
In the end, I’ll leave you with this thought. While we were browsing the closeout section my wife asked what future civilizations would think of us if all that survived was the Hastings closeout section. I think they would learn to shake their booties to all the butt shaking CDs back there, they would learn to Polka and they would think we worshiped The Cranberries since there were so many of their albums back there. I also like to that future civilizations would learn to think, much like we do now, that Rush Limbaugh is an idiot.