The “balance” thing in discussions about publishing and media is starting to drive me up a wall. At work, we pretty regularly get people complaining about how we stock more liberal books than conservative books, and therefore we must be biased. In the grand tradition of retail workers, because I can’t say to them what I want to, I will say it to you.
Look. There are just more liberal books than conservative books right now. I can’t say whether there’s a publisher-side conspiracy; personally, I think it’s because it’s easier to write an interesting book which is contrary to the establishment. Let’s face it, a book entitled Everything Is Fine doesn’t inspire you to pick it up, and the “Liberals! Liberals comin’ to get you!” screeds which made Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity famous just look stupid when the right controls two and a half branches of government.
Second, look around you. You’re in frickin’ Northern California. People are going to buy that big stack of Against All Enemies, or Bushworld, or What Went Wrong. I do not anticipate that Ann Coulter’s new book, How to Talk to A Liberal (If You Must), will be a brisk seller. (I can’t imagine what she would have to say beyond, “For some reason, calling liberals slanderous traitors seems to get the conversation off on the wrong foot. Those wacky chick pie wagons.”) Nevertheless, we’ll be carrying it. We just won’t have dozens and dozens of copies, because *they won’t sell, and we would lose money*. It’s that free enterprise thing; I thought you liked that.
On a related note, customers have started editorializing the display tables. We have one guy who likes to turn over the top copy of all the liberal books, and another who just covers them up with Unfit for Command. On the left, we apparently have a customer who enjoys moving the stack of Unfit for Command over to the Fiction table.
It’s for the best, I think, that crowbars are not typically considered part of excellent customer service.