I’ve mentioned previously that a high price doesn’t necessarily indicate a great admiration for an author or a book. The case of an author for whom I have contempt is more difficult. Several pricing volunteers have admitted to the same basic quandary: do you price the bad book really low, to show your opinion, or really, really high, so nobody buys the blasted thing?
Now, of course, the point of the exercise is not to give our seal of approval or refuse it to every book in the Book Fair. We’re trying to make money, and, after all, one reader’s poison is another reader’s meat. So it is not in our best interests to lower a price based on our personal opinion. Raising it is also somewhat counterproductive. Still and all, do we really shift the progress of the universe by muttering, “Well, if they WANT to read this garbage, they should be willing to pay an extra buck for it?”
The other major ploy pricers like is to refuse to have a book in THEIR category. “Here,” they say, “This autobiography is a pack of lies. Put it in fiction.” I have to explain my basic policy is that MOST autobiographies are packs of lies, and we can’t discriminate on that basis. (Besides, if you make me rate every book on its truth content, I won’t have ten books ready come July.)
“Here’s a book on the leadership genius of [insert politician’s name here],” says another pricer. “Put that in Humor.” Um, no: let’s not upset the people who want to read humor that’s funny. (I win some of these and I lose some of these. I tried to make a case to our Cookbook Lady that if books on whiskey and other things to drink go into the Cooking section, then so should books on cigars and other things to smoke. Wound up having to put those in How To.)
We did go into a bit of brainstorming over the two boxes of books which came in proving that the Holocaust never occurred, and was actually a plot by Jewish Communist conspirator Dwight D. Eisenhower. “I can NOT put that into the History category!” wailed the pricer. “I can’t!” Still, it would have violated our standards to put the books in Science Fiction, as one person suggested. (“Hey, consider it Alternate Universe Fiction!” he said.) We want to keep books intended as nonfiction more or less in nonfiction, to the best of our ability. And throwing them away, an option suggested by another volunteer, seemed more offensive than putting them on display.
So we put them all in Judaica. “But the people who read those books wouldn’t be caught dead in that section!” complained a pricer. “So the books won’t…oohhhhh!”