The Worst Sentence I Have Read Today

If you don’t choose your movies based on what the guy at the box office recommends, why would you choose your books that way?

Farhad Manjoo, Don’t Support Your Local Bookseller, Slate, Dec. 13, 2011

James, don’t tell me you liked Russo’s essay…

This isn’t about the the rest of Manjoo’s essay, or about Russo’s essay. It’s about a rhetorical question with such an obvious comeback that it’s embarrassing. I couldn’t tell you how many books I’ve bought and loved based on a recommendation (in person or via stocking and shelving choices) by an independent bookstore clerk. But it’s a lot.

Ah, gotcha. Didn’t occur to me; must be a generational thing. ;)

And here (before reading the comments) I assumed your objection was based on the memory of renting movies based on what the guy at the video store said. I think they have a higher batting average than bookstore clerks, though maybe I’m biased by having lived near some incredibly excellent video stores (both of which are now closed, sadly.)

Manjoo isn’t talking about video stores; video stores don’t have “box offices.” He’s making an inaccurate comparison to movie-theater employees — a non sequitur on so many levels that I don’t know where to start.

Then, too, his assertion that Amazon is “better for” authors indicates that he’s never seen a publishing contract and compared it to a royalty statement. Particularly for any contract signed before 2005 (and that can include multibook contracts with books not yet published), Amazon’s demands for discounts frequently push sales to Amazon into the “high discount” category, in which the author earns only half as much for each copy sold (or less). That’s not better for authors…