Monday, February 02, 2009
Farewell to the Spinracks
Last October I had the opportunity to interview Tom Doherty for my newspaper, and I wrote a story about the Tor.com web site for the Sunday Entertainment page of my newspaper.
The interview was wide-ranging enough that I've been able to extract a second story, which I've offered to the SFWA Bulletin. In that story, I focused more on the particulars of the publishing business.
I learned a lot from Doherty about the recent history of the publishing business - all the more interesting to me since I never really paid any attention to it. I only started to write fiction in 2002.
One thing that stuck with me is how much more centralized book distribution has become - to the detriment of diversity and distribution. Doherty said those old "spin racks" which we used to see in retail stores and pharmacies were often a point of entry for people to the s-f and fantasy genres.
They've almost completely disappeared - the only place I see them anymore are Family Dollar and Dollar General Stores.
I was thinking of that this weekend as I pulled some books out of a box in storage and I found my mass market paperback copy of Diane Wynne-Jones "Tough Guide to Fantasyland".
I bought this book out of a spin rack at the ONLY grocery store in Ovilla, Texas, ten years ago. My newspaper had a small edition just for the city (which back then had barely 3,000 people) and I brought the papers to the store myself.
I happened to see the book in the rack and bought it. By the way, if you've never read it, it's VERY funny, tongue and cheek.
I see from the printing history that the first paperback edition was dated Dec. 1998, so it must be almost exactly ten years since I bought it. It shows that even ten years ago, these racks were still around.
Today, they're almost completely extinct.
Last Saturday, as part of the Red River County Historical Society's annual Fall Bazaar, the Red River County Public Library hosted a h...