Phi Beta Cons

They Can be Uncut

From the New York Times:

Books are turning up in the oddest places these days.
With book sales sagging — down 2.6 percent as of August over the same period last year, according to the Association of American Publishers — publishers are pushing their books into butcher shops, carwashes, cookware stores, cheese shops, even chi-chi clothing boutiques where high-end literary titles are used to amplify the elegant lifestyle they are attempting to project.

They call this window-dressing. It’s even worse. Look:

Last Sunday the merchandise and books were coordinated with near-perfect precision. Resting beside a black sweater ($68) and a jet-black skirt with orange embellishments ($118) were copies of Annie Leibovitz’s “A Photographer’s Life: 1990-2005,” big and black and gleaming, for $75. A pop-up book called “One Red Dot” echoed a display of polka-dotted canvas sneakers, while another title, “The Persistence of Yellow,” perfectly matched a strategically positioned yellow knit sweater.

It’s not merely shops that are doing this – booksellers are catering to them.

Simon & Schuster, one of the industry’s largest publishers, is urging its sales representatives to punctuate their bookstore rounds with impromptu pitches at promising shops and markets they spot in their travels. The Time Warner Book Group routinely changes the color or design of book jackets at a store’s request so the book will color-coordinate with merchandise. And HarperCollins plans to design books for its spring catalog in shades of “margarita and sangria,” greens and reds that store owners have told the publisher will dominate that season’s color palette.

Remember, some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, but all are to be commercially coordinated with the season’s color palate.    

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