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to Morrow's episode

So, Your Humble Blogger had, you know, noticed the advertisement for the new Fox sitcom Stacked because of the enormous stacks of books, right? But I had thereafter dismissed it from mind. And I probably would not have thought of it much again, had I not happened to notice the New York Times review Why Johnny Can't Read, by Alexandra Jacobs. And even then, the thing that caught my eye was the following sentence: “The show's bookstore - supplied exclusively with volumes from HarperCollins, which, like Fox, is owned by the News Corporation - is the place "where everyone knows your name,"...”

Genius. Evil, yes, but genius. Synergy, right? If the show is moderately successful, they can easily slip an author signing, too. And nobody will notice. There is no way that the average viewer—heck there’s no way that the really hepped-up insider would notice that the half-dozen or so actual book titles mentioned over the course of an episode are all published out of the same house and its imprints such as William Morrow, Avon, Eos, Zondervan, Caedmon, and Quill (among others). And really, what does it hurt? I mean, yes, the writers are a trifle constrained, but with so many books to choose from, it shouldn’t be at all difficult for the writers to throw the ads in while giving each character distinct preferences and dislikes. Of course, it’s dishonest and sneaky, but you can’t blame the show for the conglomeration of publishing houses under media megacorporations, or those media megacorporations for taking advantage of their, you know, evil megacorporatude.

Or can you?

Anyway, if the show is successful, can we expect a chain of Stacks ‘independent’ bookstores, stocked only with HarperCollins books and leftover Cliff and Norm animatrons?

chazak, chazak, v’nitchazek,


I'm used to bumming around the MIT Press bookshop, the Cambridge University Press bookshop, and the sale tables at Barnes and Noble, all of which are basically one-publisher outlets. The university press bookstores are not shy about it, while it's not quite as obvious that Barnes and Noble is the (re)publisher for most of the fancy sale books. There's a children's book publisher with a shop of their own on Mass Ave., and I've been to a Scholastic bookstore in New York, I believe. I also recall a number of bookstores in France and Switzerland that are organized by publisher (rather than genre), though I don't know if that practice is universal there.

(I should mention that the MIT Press bookshop has kindly carried quality titles from Cascadilla Press and other fine publishers when they feel those would be of interest to their customers.)

If HarperCollins were simply opening bookstores, I'd wish them luck. I doubt they would displace Borders and used bookstores. The fact that they're running primetime commercials starring Ms. Anderson on their sister network, well, I'd probably do the same for my press if I could.


This week on Tongues, Pamela Anderson's blonde party-girl replaces the IPA Fridge Magnets with a Girls of BU calendar! It'll have you in ligatures!

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