Thursday, March 1, 2012

ARCs, hope, and regret

One of the joys of working at a bookstore is advance reader's copies--preview copies of forthcoming books. We get dibs. And we get about 30 dibs each week, so there are plenty from which to choose.

One of the curses of working at a bookstore is advance reader's copies. We don't let ourselves read Steinbeck or Stein or last year's hot title, because we feel an obligation to sort the forthcoming wheat from the chaff.

On the plus side, we get to read wonderful books that are soon to be great hits (like this or this), and we can eventually take some credit for evangelizing and helping them spread like wildfire.

And we can drop a book after 50 pages without guilt. We didn't buy it, so if it's no good, no hard feelings. On to the next book.

On the other hand, we get fooled sometimes. Before leaving for a (no checked luggage therefore only two books) trip to Nicaragua, I started a promising new novel set here in SF. It
made the suitcase. And it was awesome. For 225 of its 250 pages. It just didn't all come together, alas.

No big deal, right? But it displaced some other book that may be the next great thing.

Such is the anguish of the bookseller.

Shed no tears for me, though. The pile by my bed never wanes, despite regular "I'm never really going to get to this one" purges. Nor does my desire to read. And someday, maybe I won't work in a bookstore, and I can finally get to the classics I've missed.

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