The blog of author Harper Alexander

Where have all the good books gone?

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Over the weekend I met up with my author friend J Weaving and we hit up Barnes and Noble. It’s a definite ‘favorite place on earth’ for both of us. However, our favorite pastime of browsing the science fiction and fantasy section has been growing decidedly less and less fruitful as of late, and this time (though I could hardly believe it), neither of us found a single book in the entire section that we wanted to read.

And I don’t just mean we browsed quickly through and nothing caught our eye. I made a point to look at every single book in the entire section (we had quite a bit of time to kill, and neither of us tires of looking at books, so that’s not actually very unrealistic for us). NOT A SINGLE ONE came across as worth checking out. Certainly not buying.

This is alarming and baffling to me. Once upon a time, the two of us and another friend formed a little ‘book club’ between the three of us, and we could all three take a trip to the bookstore and easily pick something out without feeling crimped. So what’s the deal?

To be fair, there were a couple of books that we’ve already READ that we approve highly of, but only a few, and they’re the ones that have been on Barnes and Noble shelves every time we’ve visited over the past ten years. So where are the new books like THAT? Almost everything we pulled out was about vampires or werewolves in New York or Chicago, and SO MANY of them have almost exactly the same cover.

We joke about blaming Twilight for the craze, for the obsession, for the APOCALYPSE of other books, but is something like that really enough to make EVERY AUTHOR abandon their original, authentic stuff and resort to this? You can’t blame someone for jumping on the wave, and I imagine that publishers themselves are more keen to accept more of what the craze dictates and less of everything else, but how long is it going to last?

Let’s get something straight – I don’t care if someone wants to write about vampires and werewolves, and I don’t care if none of them can ever think of any place other than New York or Chicago to set the premise of their book in. I just want to be able to go to the bookstore and find ONE THING in the science fiction and fantasy section that’s about something else, that I haven’t already read/hasn’t been on the shelf for ten years.

In the interest of finding something new and original, we checked out the general ‘fiction’ section. And you know what? I picked up a book, looked at the back, and it was about vampires in new york as well. I tried another one, and it centered around immortality.

This may just be me, but I think it’s pretty sad when the craze is so big that even the fiction is paranormal romance. Why don’t they just slide all the shelves together and leave it at that, instead of trying to maintain some illusion that we can shop strategically according to our tastes?

Anyone else with me on this, or am I just a stubborn,, old-fashioned crone who refuses to conform?


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