August 8th, 2004

The publisher of Internet Babylon, Apress, has asked me to mention that the book was being featured on the “endcaps” in Barnes and Noble stores “this month.” I was sent the e-mail on July 23, and I am mentioning it nearly two weeks into August, so it’s safe to say I missed the boat on another promotional opportunity. (They didn’t exactly give me a lot of time to mention the fact, I hasten to add.) I love this book, but I am probably the world’s worst marketer and promoter of myself and my own works. I don’t intend for this blog to be a promotional tool either, as much as my various publishers would like it to be. I am curious, though, as to how books make their way onto the endcaps of the big chain bookstores. Apparently the publishers convince the bookstores to give their products this featured level of placement, either by persuasion or by some exchange of filthy luchre. I have this notion, however outdated, that books should be featured because the salespeople have actually read them and like them. Ha!

My daughters and I went to dinner on Belmont Avenue in Chicago the other day, by the Red Line el station, and afterwords stopped at one of my all-time favorite bookstores, The Gallery. This musty bookstore is perhaps ten feet wide and thirty feet long. The aisles are cluttered with stacks of books waiting to be shelved. Ancient newspaper clippings line the walls. The glass booth near the front is yellowed with cigarette smoke and dust. You can hardly see the risque novels and decks of playing cards inside. The kids loved snaking their ways through the maze of aisles. I loved being able to ask the employees for the whereabouts of various books and having them know exactly what I was talking about and where every book was placed, because they had placed them there with their own hands. This store sometimes features my book Literary Chicago. Literary Chicago was once featured on the “endcap” in Barnes and Noble because it was an employee selection of the month. That’s the only time I’ve been really proud about getting such attention. So much for my promotional note about Internet Babylon.

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