Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Where's "We the Purple"?

Good question. If you go to a Barnes & Noble store looking for We the Purple: Faith, Politics and the Independent Voter, good luck. You won't find it in Politics, or Political Science, or even Current Affairs.

Nope. You'll find it Inspiration.

Never mind that the faith content is, oh, less than 20 percent. Or that the distinctly Christian content is even less than that. And the inspirational content? I'm flattered that B&N finds my writing so inspiring, but really. Inspirational, in the religious sense? I don't think so.

And apparently, never mind that the political content is 100 percent. Or that my publisher, Tyndale, correctly categorized the book as political. Or that the B&N's own web site categorizes it under "United States Politics & Government."

The official explanation?
  • Tyndale is a Christian publisher.

  • The book contains a faith element.

  • All the other books I've written are shelved in their religion section.

I particularly like that last one. What if I wrote a novel, published by a Christian publisher, that contained a faith element? Would that be shelved in the nonfiction religion section, rather than Christian fiction, because that's where all my other books are shelved?

I've been in the publishing industry for 30-some years and the Christian bookselling industry for 10-plus years, and I have to tell you, it gets more bewildering with each passing year. The more inside information I learn, the more confused I am.

Unless I'm totally off my rocker here, I do believe the purpose of both publishing and bookselling is to sell books. I mean, to make money selling books. A B&N employee tried to comfort me—yes, I needed some serious comforting—by reassuring me that the staff would be able to find my book for any customer requesting it. Uncomforted, I asked him 1) Would anyone browsing the shelves for the latest and greatest book on independent politics think to check out the Christian Inspiration section? and 2) Would anyone looking for an inspirational Christian book have a clue what We the Purple is about?

Tyndale, God bless 'em, tried again to get it shelved properly, as did a B&N rep. But no. The corporate powers-that-be overruled reason. And I doubt that B&N is alone in making decisions like this; I just haven't looked for the book in any other stores yet.

Moral of the story: If you're looking for a political book during this highly charged political season and you happen to wander into a bookstore to find one, go straight to Christian Inspiration. You never know what you'll find there. (Hint: I'm shelved just to the left of Richard Foster.)

(Cross-posted on We the Purple.)


Liberal Arts Dude said...

Hi Marcia
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Anonymous said...

Stupid Barnes and Noble. Every time I go there now I'll relocate your book to the political section. Without feeling guilty about the minimum wage workers who have to fix it.

~Still Elizabeth