Categorically

Essays sold pretty well, for those of you who have inquired. (Actually, nobody inquired, but I know you were thinking about it.) You will recall that this was a new category added this year, after some requests. It was sitting near Short Stories in Room 2, in a shelf-and-table part of the room.

(Some categories wind up on tables, and some in places where they have table space AND bookcase space. Some categories, like Art, or Photography, really do better if they have shelf space, whereas others, say, Paperback Fiction, are just as well off without bookcases. Turns out that Essays would probably do better without bookcases, but this is how we learn.)

We do add categories slowly and only after much cogitation. Over the years, we have had dozens of categories suggested which did not make the cut. So far. We never forget a suggestion, mainly because no matter how bad it was, somebody else will make the same suggestion again some time. This gives us time to practice our sigh,.

And you never know when a bad suggestion might suddenly become appealing. During our fifth annual 25th anniversary Book Fair last month, as people took all those four dollar signed management texts out of Business and jammed them into Signed Collectibles, I thought once again of the lady who suggested we have a category called Signed But Not Collectible, “because some people collect those.”

Anyway, here are a few of the suggested categories which you will NOT be seeing next year. So far.

WORLD WAR I: The 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I actually falls at Book Fair time in 2014. We did, after all, start our Civil War category to mark the 150th anniversary of THAT conflagration. But will it bring us profit to continue chipping away at our Military History section, and do we really want a separate category for every war we’ve had?

WORLD WAR II: It’s one of the sad facts of history, but the Second World War started not long after the 25th anniversary of the first, so next year is the 75th anniversary of that period. All the arguments against the previous category pertain, as well as another which several volunteers pointed out. The United States didn’t enter the first war until 1917 or the second until 1941, so surely WE don’t need to take notice until 2017 and 2016. After all, history stops at our border, doesn’t it?

YOUNG ADULT: We had a lot of requests for this in July, mainly from the parents of children who had reached an age where they don’t like to be called children any more. The folks who set up the Children section do sort the books by category, and the longer books for more experienced readers are set on their own shelves. I’d hate to embarrass those Young Adults who might want to shop a little in the books for younger readers by putting up a sign and a barricade of bookends. And, anyway, are we saying that the rest of our selections are all for Old Adults?

GRAPHIC NOVELS: I blogged about this already and, actually, a lot of the people who asked after Graphic Novels nodded their approval when I told them these were sorted by subject. I don’t rule out the possibility–books in verse wind up in poetry, after all, whether they’re fiction or nonfiction, so why shouldn’t a biography in pictures go into something called Graphic Novels?–but I’d have to work on definition. Is a Bugs Bunny comic book a Graphic Novel? A book reprinting Hagar the Horrible comic strips? (Listen, in Europe, there were Hagar the Horrible graphic novels, so it’s not as easy as you might think.) There are Batman Graphic Novels AND Batman comic books…. I’m thinking about it all.

MILLENNIUM COLLECTIBLES: Would you STOP bringing me your Y2K preparation guides and telling me they’re collectible? They may be, but so far they are not valuable. (See my many blogs on the difference between the terms “collectible” and “worth a million bucks”.) Just this week, I had books of Prayers For the New Millennium, Parenting for the New Millennium, and Financial Planning for the New Millennium. Those publishers who skipped the New Millennium bandwagon were busy with the Old Millennium: Greatest Books of the Last 1000 Years, Most Important People of the Last Millennium, What We Learned From the Last Millennium. Someone suggested we could have a whole category just for these books, plus the books that were written about the world in the year 1000.

“And call it Millennium Collectibles?” I asked.

“No,” said the suggester. “Call it One More Table You Can Skip.”

A sensible suggestion, but it won’t make us any money. Isn’t that always the way?

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