Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The spin rack is not quite dead

Back in September, I did a story for the entertainment page of my newspaper on the integrated web portal run by Tor Books. The story about gave me the opportunity to visit with Tom Doherty his own self, and during the discussion about how retail book sales have changed over the years, Tom mentioned how the collapse of traditional distribution systems have eliminated the old familiar spin racks. I have used a photo from the pilot episode of the Twilight Zone ("Where is Everybody?") to show what a mean. In this scene, the protagonist wanders through an empty drug store and between at least three of the old racks, giving them a whirl.

In a previous post a few months ago I mentioned how you could still find spin racks in small stores as recently as the '90s. I mentioned that I picked up a mass paperback copy of Diana Wynne Jones' "A Tough Guide to Fantasyland" in the only store in Ovilla, Texas, in 1998.

There are still back alleys where the good old spin racks can be found, however. Yesterday I stopped at a local Dollar General to pick up some mutt meal for my surrogate children, and I saw that not only does the store have a spin rack, there was a mass market paperback copy of Kristine Katherine Rusch's "Paloma" in it. It's a 2006 book in her Retrieval Artist series.

I bought the book. I guess that's the good news. The bad news is that - since the store was Dollar General - it was priced at a dollar (although in all fairness, the book may have been discounted because there seems to be a slight printing imperfection on the cover.)

The more bad news is that the store apparently has its paperbacks on clearance and I was only charged 30 cents for the book.

So we indeed may be seeing the final demise of the last of the spin racks.

I wonder how much Rusch gets off a 30 cent retail sale?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the note, Lou. What I get from a 30 cent paperback is (I hope) a new reader who will buy my books when they first come out. If, of course, I've done my job as a writer and entertained.

    As for what I really make, there is some weird percentage that I receive off high discount books. Maybe a penny, maybe less.

    But I'm a firm believer in loss leaders--having books out there cheap so that someone can get hooked on the writing. As a reader, I appreciate a good deal. I've discovered a lot of writers that way, by buying used or finding a free copy. I now buy a lot of those folks in hardcover.

    Again, thanks for the mention.


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