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Sunday, January 16, 2005


Waterstones have fired Joe Gordon, the organiser of their SF line in their Edinburgh shop, allegedly because he ran a blog which occasionally mentioned his job, though that was clearly only a very small part of what he blogged.

Here is the story in some detail by somebody who actually knows him, which I don't. It looks likely that Joe annoyed his new manager, probably by displaying some competence, & that the gentleman went trawling for some excuse to get rid of him - which may be an explanation but is not an excuse for Waterstone's totalitarian behaviour.

My anecdote (its a Yugoslavia one) is that a couple of years ago I emailed Waterstone's Central to point out that in their section of books on the Yugoslav wars they had not a single title which put anything other than the pro-western case. I suggested when one major Scots party had actually opposed the Kosovo bombing it would be not only politically right but commercially so, to allow at least one opposite view. I suggested To Kill a Nation available in the nearby Borders. I got back a very nice email assuring me that they were immediately going to correct this oversight.

They never did - Glasgow's Waterstones still pushes only the nazi view.

Unfortunately the book business is full of people whose political ideas are the same. I often struggle to find what I want hidden behind the thousands of identikit tomes on Marx. Another problem is that most serious books are written by academics, a monoculture if ever there was one.

Thank god for Amazon
Hardbacks in the UK (tho' less so in the US) are, to a large extent, bought by libraries. This means that literary & politically correct taste plays a much bigger part here in setting sales potential. Making the hardcover viable is the make or breakpoint.

As a non-literary type I don't like that.

On the other hand Michael Parenti, author of To Kill a Nation could pass as a marxist - which doesn't stop him being absolutely right.
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