Preferred Shelving: Trotskyite Traitor v. Capitalist Pig

This is going to be short, because I hope to generate a dialogue here (as always).

Trotskyite Traitor: Selling preferred space in bookstores to the highest bidder is disingenuous. Readers are not made aware that what they are looking at is a paid advertisement, and so they are led to believe that the most prominently displayed books are "bestsellers," and therefore have a legitimate high ranking by critics and readers alike.

Capitalist Pig: Are you kidding? It’s been like that for ages, and it’s not just bookstores. You think Cocoa Puffs just happen to be stacked at kids’ eye level in the grocery store? It’s all planned and paid for. Don’t be so naive. When you have money and you’ve made an investment, you must protect that investment and give it the best shot in the marketplace.

Trotskyite Traitor: Aside from fundamentally disagreeing with your worldview, I find it amazing that you sidestepped the issue of honestly to the consumer. Where in the store–grocery, bookstore, or otherwise–is it disclosed that they are viewing advertisements? That’s the fulcrum issue here, I believe.

Capitalist Pig: How much handholding do you need for consumers? They are sophisticated enough to do their own homework. And moreover, not every advertisement is disclosed to consumers, so why should bookstores?

Trotskyite Traitor:  Because there is an assumption of trust between the literary world and consumers. It is above the fray.

Capitalist Pig: You can’t honestly say that and keep a straight face. This conversation is getting increasingly ridiculous.

Trotskyite Traitor: I am saying what people truly believe.

Capitalist Pig: Then if book buyers are so sophisticated, why the need to beat them over the head with the obvious?

Trotskyite Traitor: Because it is NOT obvious, that’s the problem. Mainstream publications like the New York Times use the term "bestseller" and it’s bullshit. Mainstream retailers put books on visual displays according to these rankings. It’s a betrayal of trust. It’s a lie.

Capitalist Pig: It is not a lie when everyone knows the truth.

Trotskyite Traitor: First, that’s a philosophical debate that we just don’t have time for. And it’s also a political debate that isn’t appropriate for this forum. So don’t get inflammatory. People do not know that bestseller lists are bullshit. People do not know that the preferred bookstore shelving is orchestrated by publishers and retailers. It’s not common knowledge. The industry is colluding against the consumer–

Capitalist Pig: No one is colluding against any consumer. The industry needs the consumer, and the consumer needs industry. Sometimes truth isn’t the nicest way to perpetuate this relationship.

Trotskyite Traitor: You can’t be saying what I think you’re saying?

Capitalist Pig: It’s not that complicated.

Trotskyite Traitor: So you admit that it’s a lie. You’re admitting that it’s disingenuous.

Capitalist Pig: I’m not admitting anything and I am not going to justify the ages-old tradition of capitalism right now. But I will say that publishers and authors and retailers are in business together and you can’t deny that. Authors write books to sell them. If you don’t want to sell your book, publish it yourself and it won’t be in any bookstores, and your problem is solved. Don’t act like this isn’t a good system, because I know you can’t come up with anything better.

This is a reprint from Jenn Topper‘s Don’t Publish Me! blog.

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