I dislike literary elitism. No, I am comfortable enough to say I that I loathe it. There is not point to it. No one has any right to pass judgement on the books that inspire someone else’s happiness.The fact is, I hear it all the time. Heck, I’ve even been guilty of it.
I bring this up today due to a recent personal experience.
I found the most incredible used bookstore a few weeks back. It’s just under 200,000 books packed into 800 square feet of literary bliss organized by genre. From the moment you walk in you wonder if you are overwhelmed or dead…maybe both.
My first visit was two hours of wandering around going ‘whoa’ as I struggled to figure out what to spend my rather minuscule funds on. I made friends with the owner and we talked for an hour about the pros and cons of running an independent bookstore. She confided that she wasn’t sure how long she’d be open. She’d made less in the past year than she had in the previous few. It was disheartening to hear since I had so recently fallen in love.
My most recent visit was less than appealing. It was not the owner manning the counter; it was her daughter. The girl is within my age bracket and had always been fairly quiet before. Today, however, she seemed to be in a mood that I can only describe as persnickety. She was currently organizing a series of paranormal romance books to go back up on the shelves.
I asked her if they had gotten in anything by one of the authors I prefer. She began talking loudly about how she wouldn’t know because she was busy going through, and I’m quoting here “These shitty vampire novels are taking up all my time.”
I am one of those people who smile when I’m feeling kind of awkward. I don’t mean to. It just happens. I did so then and she took it as agreement and continued to rant about how paranormal romances were killing modern literature.
During this rant she did not notice another girl, a few years our junior, returning some of her near-purchases to the shelves.I did and it bothered me a lot. Between the price of the books and the number the girl placed back I’d average that the girl behind the counter lost her business about $20.
It may not seem like much, but to a small business $20 is nothing to sneer at. I couldn’t help but wonder how many other times the girl behind the counter had cost her owner money and if that was part of the decreasing profit margin over the past year.
There is a good chance that girl who liked the vampire novels is going to look elsewhere for her business. I know I would.
Now, don’t mistake me. I’m not saying a person doesn’t have a right to their opinion. You don’t have to read about paranormal sex if you don’t want to. If you think a certain book is the bane of all literature everywhere…that’s fine. Talk about it when you are with your buddies or on a date. What I’m saying is that is it really worth making someone else feel like crap for the things that make them happy especially when you are on the clock.