Saturday, December 8, 2007

The death of the spinner rack.

Macmillan (formerly Holtzbrinck) has a new blog; contributors will vary among the many employees at the myriad Macmillan imprints.

One of the more interesting posts come from Tor founder Tom Doherty; he talks about mass versus trade paperback publishing and the demise of the traditional wire spinner rack. Over at Deep Genre, novelist Madeleine Robins goes into a bit more depth on the subject.

I have a particular nostalgia for the wire spinner rack. As a kid, I lived on a tiny island in New Jersey (Brigantine) where there were no bookstores. We had an understocked public library that allowed you to only take out three books at a time. And there was the library at the school I attended, St. Phillip the Apostle, where students were restricted to borrowing only those books that the nuns deemed age-appropriate. For a nerdy, socially-awkward kid like myself - a wicked smart kid who was reading well above her grade level by second grade and one who found solace and friendship primarily in books - this was akin to torture. (There was always the Scholastic Book Club, but the book selections were, again, well below my reading level at that point, and I had to wait a whole agonizing month before my books arrived!) The closest bookstore was an hour away in Absecon at the Shore Mall and I wasn't allowed to travel there on a bus by myself until I was fourteen. That left me with the two battered wire spinner racks at Jack's Pharmacy. It was on those racks that I discovered the worlds of Stephen King, Fred Pohl, Poul Anderson, Andre Norton, Dean Koontz, Ray Bradbury, Frank Herbert, Gordon R. Dickson, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle (The Mote in God's Eye is still a favorite of mine, more than thirty years after first reading it), Walter M. Miller, Jr., Robert Heinlein, Richard Adams and Theodore Sturgeon. Those wire racks helped me develop a lifelong love of reading. And a lifelong love of genre fiction.

Now when I go into a supermarket or drugstore and see the homogeneous racks of the same ten mega-bestsellers - placement bought and paid for - I rarely see a genre title among them.

I guess it just makes me a little sad.

1 comment:

Idgie @ the "Dew" said...

They still have the spinner racks at the library for the books they care so little about they don't even record them as checked out.

The "We trust you to return them someday, or if not, we don't really care" racks!

(I still love them anyway.)