Sunday, June 05, 2005

Bookstore observations

Mass market paperback editions of The DaVinci Code are recently available everywhere in French, but there is no scheduled date for such an English edition. Meanwhile, Umberto Eco's latest is marked down 30% in French, not so in English. What does this say about the difference between French and English consumer markets? (Note that first issues in French are usually a kind of trade paperback, and relatively expensive — as much as or more than an English hardcover.)

(Yes, I'm spending more time in bookstores these days than I ought. With all the other things needing doing, they're so conveniently on the way.)

I'm setting off alarms in stores. The culprit is finally identified as the book I've been lugging around for dentist chairs and metro rides. Of course, it's in the bookstores that security guards question me about the contents of my bag. One uniform turns the book over, checking the spine and corners. He thumbs through it, presumably looking for smudged fingerprints, coffee spills, chocolate smears, other signs of wear.

The thing is: I tend to take care of my books. While this one is not pristine, it isn't any worse off than many that are regularly handled and perused in the bookstore stacks. The only evidence in my favour is the tattered bookmark about halfway through. I brace myself for a pop quiz on the book's contents, but it does not come to pass. He hands the novel back to me, resignedly.

Surely they realize that people who carry books around with them are likely to frequent bookshops, that they who linger there might be the type to have reading material at the ready.

I wonder do they ever confiscate such books, do they have training to recognize that a book has had travels and experiences beyond the store, or are they specialized in reading people.

Do people steal books? What kind of people? Do security guards hand the goods over to the criminals and let them walk away?
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