So I rallied tonight and found myself at my favorite Denver bookstore (at least in the non-used category). I love the place, and yet I have some issues with it. It’s because my interests are becoming increasingly interdisciplinary. Where is the book on the psychoanalysis (from afar) of George Bush? Biography? Humor (though it’s definitely not funny)? Politics? Psychology? Where is the book that started as a blog about the girl who decided to cook all of the recipes in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking? Cooking? Non-Fiction? Biography? Are there books on folksonomies and social tagging? Where would they be? Lingustics? Computers? (I’m not sure where they are, but they exist, and I want one, but I’m worried they’ll be too pop-business-y, and not do the topic justice.)
I know that everything has to belong somewhere, and I do think it’s important to classify anything in a sizable retail store to some extent. What bothers me is that, unlike at a library, you can’t rely on tools to help you answer these questions of classification and placement. If I want to find Bush on the Couch at the library, I go straight to the catalog, look up the title (or author or subject or ISBN or a number of other details), find the call number, go to the section, and find the book. If I have trouble, I can ask a reference librarian. In a bookstore, I figure they must sell more books by a.) forcing you to look in several different places to find what it is you want, and b.) making you ask a salesperson for assistance if that doesn’t work. Meanwhile, they have access to the database that tells them exactly where the book is, and probably how many they have in stock. A decade or two ago, these systems were probably too complex for Average Joe Reader to navigate effectively, but now I highly doubt they are (and if they are, they need to be upgraded). Anyway, it’s just annoying.
Being a woman of contradiction, I have to say I don’t mind this lack of organization in my favorite Denver video store, where videos are (sort of) organized by the people involved — directors, actors, etc. I am almost never looking for a particular movie, and rely completely on chance and nice-looking covers to find something to rent. And anyway, Video One is a step above the bookstores because they actually do number their shelves, and they have little indexes around in case you do want to find something specific — no human interaction necessary if you’re not up for it (though they are friendly).
All of that said, I’m in the middle of Bush on the Couch, Professional Photoshop: The Classic Guide to Color Correction (still), Women in Love, and the Summer issue of Artforum, which is 500+ pages and mostly consists of intriguing ads (the ads really are the content). But I have some bookstore cash, and I’m looking for suggestions — what have you enjoyed lately?