Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The death of brick-and-mortar + brain meanderings

A few weeks ago, while wandering the interwebs, I ran across an excerpt from a novel.  It was one of the more engrossing excerpts I've ever read.  I was hooked in a single paragraph.
To anyone who would say, "I don't know what that agent expects to learn from a single excerpt, they need more than that!"  I have to respond that (no offense, but) you aren't reading or writing the right books. 

I'm not suggesting that we'll all find the fulfillment we desire from the same book, or even popular books.  To each his own!

So anyway, as is typical of my wandering nature, I continued browsing, not even taking note of the book's title or author.  But days and even weeks later the excerpt haunted me.  And I had no way of recalling it.  All I knew was that it was written very tight third person (my favorite), and it was fantasy (my favorite), and a guy nearly kills himself with his own axe and falls over a cliff.
By now I'm obsessed with rediscovering the book.

After a series of googlings, I come across a link to Bestfantasybooks.com where I find THIS link.
I proceed to peruse.

Number One: GRRM, GoT.  Debatable for #1 but I do enjoy.  Apparently I have something in common with this list-maker.

Number Two: The Blade Itself, Joe Abercrombie...  Now this looks familiar. I go to Amazon and click "LOOK INSIDE!"  What, to my wandering eyes should appear but THE BOOK I SEEK!


Now, I've been reading free Kindle books (for research or just because I'm part masochist)
A Short History of the World, H.G.Wells
Dracula, Bram Stoker
Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri
The Art of War, Sunzi
The Lost World, Arthur Conan Doyle
Paradise Lost, John Milton
Treasure Island, Stevenson

and I've been reading GRR Martin for my fantasy fix, although I grow a bit weary of the generally pessimistic atmosphere.
But this excerpt was fresh!  And it broke rules!  Like sentence fragments and detached phrases!  And stuff!
I realized I needed to have this book more than anything.

(here comes the part of the story that actually initiated this post) (and for the rest of this to make sense, you must know that I'm cheap... Like so cheap it might be a disorder.)

I need to have this book physically, not electronically, for the whole experience.  Fantasy books are the most likely to have maps and images.  You understand.
I call Barnes & Noble.  They say they can order it ($17) and have it by the weekend and (in a typical sales-push, considering I never told them to order it) they ask "Would you like us to contact you when it arrives?"  I say sure.
I look at Amazon. It's $10 brand new.  But shipping will be longer than the wait from Barnes & Noble.  Impatient-me and Cheap-me are now battling with light-sabers.
I talk to the library at the college where I work.  They say they can inter-library loan it and have it in a week or two.  "Unacceptable," says Impatient-me.  Even Cheap-me agrees.
So today Barnes & Noble emails me.  "Your book is in!"
Clever-me saunters into the room, earning distrustful glances from Cheap-me and Impatient-me.
I call Barnes & Noble. I tell them my situation.  I ask if they can do something better with their price, considering my options.  They say no.  Clever-me backs, grinning, into the shadows as Angry-me storms out of nowhere and rips the sales clerk's head off over the phone, thereby solidifying my Amazonian choice. 

At first I felt like a hypocrite for not diving at the opportunity to support an author.
Then questions began to grow roots in my mind.  Why on earth would I pay seven more dollars?  For convenience?  For Barnes & Noble's power bill?  For their rent?  To employ that snotty sales clerk?

If you can tell me a logical reason why I should pay more and support Barnes & Noble, versus simply supporting the author, I'm all ears!  If not, I think we should all get comfortable with the idea that this generation will live to see the extinction of brick-and-mortar media retailers.