The Top Secret Catalog

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?



Filed under Current Reading, Information Science

6 responses to “The Top Secret Catalog

  1. Stacy

    On the topic of catalogs, how do you feel about this?

    I really liked Julie and Julia as a fun read.

  2. I’m aghast. And I’ll blog about that later in the week. Thanks for the link (and thanks but no thanks to the Maricopa County Library).

  3. christophermgomez

    Another friend of mine in Denver (whose name begins with “L” also) would use the verb “rally” when describing how she “rallied” by getting her shit together (hair, makeup and outfit) and still hitting the bars after a long day at work.

    I must say that I’ve never heard of anyone “rallying” to make it to a book store. Only a librarian, I suppose, would do so. But we all have our quirks. I myself, “rally” to feign interest in other people’s lives on occasion.

    On another note, I too was at the TC on Colfax yesterday, but much earlier in the day. It’s so not as good as their old Cherry Creek location and makes me more than a little sad. I think I need to start frequenting the downtown location more, if only for the ambiance.

  4. Wow. I guess your other “L” friend must be a lot cooler than me.
    And I actually like the new Tattered Cover. I like that it’s in a building that used to serve a completely different purpose. I like the tall ceilings, the little nooks and crannies, and that music is in the pit, psychology on the stage. And I love that it’s not in Cherry Creek.

  5. Sam

    Feigning interest is so five years ago.

  6. Pingback: Heresy! « distillation

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