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05 November 2006

Blue-Skying a Bookstore Catalogue

This post offers another book list (taken from an Advanced Book Exchange webpage for this Canadian bookseller).

At abebooks, the member-bookdealers are free to edit their own page for users who want to browse their specific collection.

Look at the bilingual French and English list as it scrolls below. The keywords used as labels for the (sic) catalogs are arranged as hyperlinks across three of four columns on the Browse Our Books page for the bookstore online. You will find these subject and topic headers amusing, quirky and thought-provoking. Whether you read French and English or not, the cognates between the Latin languages and English always are amusing. In French, the labels sometimes come out exactly the same as in English (or with 'ie' for psychologie in the place of the 'y' ending for psychology in English, etcetera). But for reasons we'll perhaps get into in another post, pocketbook and livre de poche (or paperback and éditions populaires) do not have exactly the same meaning in the two cultures.

In any case, the person who wrote the catalogue listings below did not make very many fine distinctions between European, Canadian, American nor any other groups.* It looks like they titled their catalogues on the fly based upon whatever books there were in stock at the time of the writing. Not necessarily a bad idea -- if you want to go to the bother of going back (on a regular basis) to the published list to revise several categorical divisions. As the books in stock evolve over time, with new titles acquired and old titles sold -- or as entire collections are damaged while in storage under the water pipes in the basement -- in other words, OVER TIME, such an inspired, spontaneous division of a stock of books becomes outdated and worse than useless. Such a list becomes a labyrinth and a headache for the bookseller and the partner-employees doing the upkeep of the bookstore and its website(s). (As happens regularly chez this bookseller, books ordered online mysteriously disappeared under piles of other books!)

* Some distinctions are obviously academic; others obviously based on 'what is hot and what is not' in the book trade. New Age as a category is out-of-date, but used book stores, by their very nature, tend to carry the out-of-date. Perhaps the challenge lies in how trends, attractions and reading fads are translated into useful catalogue nomenclature and hotlinks on webpages as well as in the bookstore. The clientele (or a goodly part of it) is perhaps "stuck in the 1960s -- or '50s, the 1980s or whatever -- while another group of potential buyers have their heads full of the latest buzzwords invented only yesterday. How can books be categorized and how can they be displayed to attract the disparate publics? A bookstore, virtual or bricks 'n' mortar, is not a public library. Some of the customers have never used a library or do so only rarely. At Cheap Priceless Editions, these issues are the core of what we intend to explore.

My interest in multi-lingual bookstores brought to my mind how what I discuss relates to 'chez moi'. I am steeped in popular North American culture, so I also thought of how Miss Piggy says the word "Moi". Miss Piggy may be cute on the TV of the 70's and 80's, but the Miss Piggy approach to keeping a bookstore is definitely a bummer and a Black Hole as far as a way to invest time and money in a normally respectable trade. The challenges of organizing books and trading in them will be an ongoing theme and preoccupation here at the blog Cheap Priceless Editions. Feel free to make your own comments in this or any other book-related department!

Some of the labels for the myriad collections of books you see below are too specific. Example: take "King Arthur Legends & Story". This topic head as a catalogue confused the sellers' partner, the person who entered books into the database on the keyboard. When the author of the catalogue gave up the ghost (ran away), all titles related to medieval Europe (castles and feudalism, Chaucer and Chateaux françaises) were listed under "King Arthur Legends & Story".

One discrete collection of books about Camelot entered and uploaded to the Internet book sites from a bookstore's database thus goes on to 'pollute' or misfile dozens more books in this bookstore's otherwise interesting collection of titles about pre-modern European social history and cultural history in the non-fiction section. Chaucer falls at the opposite end of the collection from Cervantes although the two should be grouped together in a literature section.

Now: just glance over the titles of the catalogue and let your imagination take hold or wander as you put yourself in the shoes of a potential client or a book buyer about to delve into this catalogue to find a specific title.

This Bookseller's (sic) Catalogs:

1900-1960's Popular Fiction 78 RPM RECORDS 1919-1955 Classical / Popular Adventure, Voyages
Affaires Airplanes, Airships, Air Travel Alternative Spirituality & Belief
Anciens Livres, Livres Decoratifs Animals, Animaux, Animaux Domestique, Chats, Chiens, Chevau
Anthropology Art & Architecture Artisanat
Artisinat Astrology Astronomy, Space Geography Atlas ENGLISH
Atlantis, Cayce, Psychic, Autobobiles, Camions Aventure
Baker Collection bandes Desinees Baseball
Beethoven 33 RPM RECORDS Just a Few. Biographie Biography
Biology Birds Black History and Politics
Boats and Boating Books about Books
Business Affairs & Ideas
Canadiana Cars & Auto Mechanics Cartoon & Comic Books
Catalogues - trade publications Chess
Child & Adult Gen. Fiction
Childbirth & Child Care Childrens Books & Youth Series CHRISTMAS GIFTS OF THE UNUSUAL KIND
Classics: Greek, Roman Collectibles COMEDY & GOLDEN AGE OF RADIO 33rpm RECORD ALBUMS
Comic Books Communication Communism
Computer Languages Computer Games, Programs and Theory
Cook Books Corporate Affairs and Finance Crafts, Jewellery, Sewing Crime Cuisine Dance, Ballet
Decorating, Home Furnishings Dentistry & Dental Practice DEUTSCH Alte Und Vergriffene Bucher GERMAN LANGUAG
Developpement Personelle Directories & Year Books
Dogs Cats Ecology Ecomics Economics
Editions Francaise-Fiction Education Electronics
Electronics, Radio, TV Employment,
Labor Relations, Human Resources Manag; Employment. Labor Market Job Skills
Enfants Francaise Ephemera Erotica
Esotericisme Esoterisme Essays
Exercise Fantasy Fashion
Femmes Fiction Finances, Investissements, Planification
first Editions Forbidden Knowledge Foreign Language Books
FRANCAIS EGLISE Catholique FRANCAIS extraterrist,astrologie, biz francaise - French Books-Non Fiction Francaise -la science fiction francaise-petit classiques Games
Gardening Gender Issues General #1
geo/earth Science Ghost Stories & Scary Stories GIFTS OF THE UNUSUAL KIND
Grossesse, Naissance, Maternite Health Herbs Plants Gardens Trees Granola Girl
Historical Fiction Historiques l'histoire Francais History -Absolute Truth
Hockey Horror Horses, Riding
HOW TO DO THIS... OR THAT BOOKS Humour Indigenous Peoples, Natives Art, Culture
international Affairs Italian Language Books John F. Kennedy & Related
Journalism / News Judiaca Judiasm
King Arthur Legends & Story Knitting, Crochet, yarn arts and Crafts La Guerre/ L'Espionnage/ Mafia - en FRA
Languages and Dictionaries Law
Le Science fiction- Francais
Linguisitics Linguistique Literary Critique Literature
Litterature Francais, Poesie, Critique Livre De Poche 1955-1975 ROMANS Loi, Jurisprudence
Magazines and Reviews Magazines/Journals/Periodicals Marketing, Management
Martial Arts marx and Marxism Math & Numbers
Math (Algebra Trig Statistics Vectors) Medical; Metals and Metallurgy Military MODEL KITS - Plastic Money
Movie & TV into books MOVIE STARS HOLLYWOOD /
MOZART 33 RPM Vinyl Records
Music Mysteres, Suspense Mystery
Mythology, Legends, Classics NAT KING COLE RECORDS 33 RPM /
Native, Black, & Women's History /
Natural Healing Nature Nice Little Books
Pavarotti Records; Personal Finances, Investing Philosophy Photography Physics Plays
Poesie Poetry POLANSKI Slask; POLISH Politics /
Popular Culture Posters/Ephemera/Counterculture
Psychoanalysis-Depression-Therapy-Anxiet Psychologie, Psychanalyse /
Psychology Public Speaking QUEBEC politics economy society history /
Radio Real Estate Records, Music Books, CD's Religion
Romance Romance Serialized Romans, recits Frnacaises /
Royalty Sante, Medecins Douces Science & Technology
Science Fiction / Science, Natural / Self Help
Service & Repair Manuals / Sexuality Sheet Music
Sherlock Holmes & Friends Social Issues Sociology
Spanish Language Books Spiritualite, Spiritisme; Sports & Games /
Spy, Cold War, Security STEPHEN KING /
Talking Books - audio cassettes
Theatre Theatre Francais Dramatique /
Theological Murder Mysteries NUN & PRIEST Gumshoe /
Theologie Theology Religious Wonder Transport
Travel True Crime UFO, Witchcraft , Astrology, Hypnotise /
UFO, Witchcraft , Astrology, Weird /
Ukrainian and Slavonic History UNDERGROUND COMIX mainly 1969-74
Videos Voyages, Le Monde, Pays Different
Westerns Wine & Beer ( French & English) Women
Woodworking and Furniture WWII Yoga Anti Stress Cool Health

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