Readers Without Borders

For many years I avoided buying books at Borders’ web site for the very reasons you’re probably thinking right now: they were overpriced and their stock was curiously limited. While I made regular browsing and buying visits to stores around Chicago (my son’s library was nicely padded out by their expansive children’s section), I dreaded receiving Borders gift cards. If I shopped at a Borders store, I’d have to search a hour or more for anything I’d like. If I shopped at the site I’d spend an hour or more trying to find what I wanted, then another half hour searching for a used copy at a price slightly higher than what I’d pay for a new book/CD/DVD at Amazon. Yes, white people problems, I know, but admit that it’s a little frustrating.

One day I thought, “Hold on a second. I used to order books through bookstores for years. If they didn’t have a copy, most stores—especially the chains—could search around and see if another branch had a copy.” Because of Amazon,  it’d been a very long time since I’d done that. Brilliant! Genius!

The next day I went to the Borders on State and Randolph. I found a clerk and told her I couldn’t find a book on the shelves, and a search on their computers revealed that they didn’t have any in the store. So, I asked, could they order me a copy for pick up the next day?

“Sure!” she said, beaming. “All I had to do was visit and order it there. Then it would be sent to the store for pick up.

“Uh…” I said. “Yeah, okay.” I saw no point in entering into a discussion, but can you guess what immediately occurred to me?

Right. If I visited their site at home, why would I need to return to the store? Factoring in shipping and handling, I’d probably pay just as much, with the county taxes, as if I’d bought it at their store. I suppose there was some basic “shipping” fee involved in sending a copy of the book from, say, Skokie to downtown Chicago, but they’d still be ahead, wouldn’t they? I think I ended up buying the book online—which was good for the company, but a loss to the store, yes?

So, not really surprised at the current turn of events. Wow. I still remember the days when the box stores were pricing smaller independent bookstores out of existence. I never thought for a moment they’d fall themselves. Again, wow. I feel bad for all the people losing their jobs because of poor marketing and management decisions.

Things I Never Understood During My Tenure on LiveJournal

1. The large number of people who, whenever I posted admonishments against people who annoyed me in meatspace, thought I was speaking directly to them—against all evidence and even across state lines.

Me: Curse you, foul creature, for failing to submit those TPS reports before the 3 p.m. meeting. I damn thee!

Commenter: What? When did I do this? Why are you so mad at me?

Me: Beg pardon? You know I’m talking about work, right?

Commenter: Well, how am I supposed to know that?

2. The number of people who felt a need to fix my attitude about everything.

Me: Dammit! I hate it when people put piccalilli on my hamburger.

Commenter 1: Hey, that’s not fair, Dan. A lot of people LIKE piccalilli. Maybe you need to give it… and them… a chance.

Commenter 2: Yeah, Dan, I’m not sure what brought that on. Don’t you think you’re being a little unfair?

Me: Huh? I personally don’t like piccalilli. That’s all I’m saying.

Commenter 1: I’ve never heard of anyone who didn’t like piccallili.

Me: Sure you did. Me. Right now.

Commenter 2: No, I don’t think so.

3. Those who thought that when I offered an opinion on something they enjoyed immediately assumed I believed they were idiots.

Me: Man, fuck Kajagoogoo. Other people can like them, but I hate them. Fucking Kajagoogoo. And fuck bucatini pasta too.

Commenter: LOOK, I can LIKE Kajagoogoo and bucatini pasta if I want to, and your ARROGANT and ELITIST attitude has NOTHING TO DO WITH IT.

Me: All right. I’m just saying I personally don’t like Kajagoogoo and bucatini pasta, because…


4. The folks who felt the need to provide ongoing reviews of my posts.

Me: To get to the other side! And that’s why that chicken crossed the road. Chortle chortle!

Commenter: This wasn’t as funny as that post you made May 5, 2003. Why don’t you write posts like that anymore?

Me: Uh, because they already done been written, boss?

Commenter: Well, if you just want to sit back on your laurels I suppose that’s a good answer. Also, you know that post where you said, “Remember when candy bars were as thick as a baby’s torso?” Well, I don’t remember that.

Me: I figured some people wouldn’t since it didn’t happen.

Commenter: Yes, but how is that post relevant to me? To my needs and memories?

Me: You know, I’d love to help you find what you’re looking for, but I’m not sure what it is or where you lost it. In fact, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t exist.

Commenter: Also, this post is going on too long. And I know I never wrote this. In fact, there aren’t any posts that look exactly like this one, so I think none of this stuff happened.

Me: Um, sez you?

Commenter: I smugly sit back, now that I have made my point.

Me: What?