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Biologists Helping Bookstores
July 28, 2007 8:02 AM   Subscribe

Can't ever find what you are looking for at the bookstore? Tired of seeing pseudoscience or pop psychology books in the science section? Join a grassroots effort to re-shelve books to the appropriate section of the store: Biologists Helping Bookstores.
posted by corpse (31 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Is this what happens when you confuse a book store for a library?
posted by wfrgms at 8:06 AM on July 28, 2007


I bet bookstore employees love this guy. This is as annoying as proselytizers coming to your door.
posted by Phatty Lumpkin at 8:22 AM on July 28, 2007


We've seen this before.

It did not end well.
posted by googly at 8:26 AM on July 28, 2007


When I was a teenager I enjoyed moving bibles into the "Christian Fiction" section at Waldenbooks.
posted by Wolfdog at 8:31 AM on July 28, 2007


Almost forgot, we had seen it before the before.
posted by googly at 8:39 AM on July 28, 2007


First they came for the pseudoscientists.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:41 AM on July 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


the best part about working at a gigantic used bookstore is that i could make up sections at will. My favorites were Red Scare Propaganda and Anti-Feminist Diatribes. I also had Pseudo-Science, Books by People Who Talk to Aliens/Angels and Trickle-Down Economics.
posted by RedEmma at 8:42 AM on July 28, 2007 [4 favorites]


When I was a teenager I enjoyed moving bibles into the "Christian Fiction" section at Waldenbooks.

From where? The Christian Non-Fiction section?
posted by three blind mice at 8:42 AM on July 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


I always straighten up and organize the books at a bookstore. It's hardly a grassroots effort at anything. I just have OCD.
posted by orlandogreer at 8:42 AM on July 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Funny, every bookstore I've ever been to files all of those things in their own sections.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:45 AM on July 28, 2007


Please don't do this... Thanks.
posted by drezdn at 8:53 AM on July 28, 2007


Christ, what an asshole. But of course he's never worked at a job where you have to clean up after assholes like him.
posted by languagehat at 9:06 AM on July 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Why couldn't there have been anything like this when I used to read SF books? It was annoying to be looking for good stories about dystopia and space exploration and to be pulling out title after title of "fantasy", with medieval dragons and flying ponies on the covers.
posted by rolypolyman at 9:10 AM on July 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


I liked to move all the girl-on-girl DVDs from the "straight" to the "gay" section whenever I was shopping at the porn store.

Unitl I got banned from the porn store. :(
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:24 AM on July 28, 2007


This is dumb. Filing of books in bookstores has nothing to do with the bookstore trying to make a pronouncement about the book's contents and everything to do with the bookstore trying to wave the book in front of the people they think are most likely to buy it.

If bookstores thought they could sell more copies of Origin of the Species by shelving it with the Harlequin Romance Novels, they would.
posted by straight at 9:26 AM on July 28, 2007


He'll crack eventually. I picture him furtively running around a B&N, clutching a copy of Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman, and muttering "It's 90% anecdote. It's not science. NOT SCIENCE. BUT WHERE DOES IT GO?"

(Disclaimer: B&N may already put this under Biography. Other stores put it in Physics.)

Also: whatcha gonna do about Amazon, tough guy? There's Behe's book on the first page of results when browsing the subject Science-Evolution-General. Good luck reshelving that.

Anyway, Michael Behe's books shouldn't be reshelved. They should be burnt.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 9:27 AM on July 28, 2007


Mis-organized bookstores are worsethanhitler. However, reshelving is a bit extreme. How about just leaving a helpful pamphlet on Where To Put Things?
posted by DU at 9:27 AM on July 28, 2007


He probably won't approve the comment, but I just posted over there recommending he allow the booksellers to come to his house and rearrange HIS things.

Why not?
posted by konolia at 9:54 AM on July 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry sir, but I'll decide what SCIENCE is. Since I find your claims that man will one day be able to fly from one continent to another in mere hours in metal flying machines to be utter madness, I will file your book under children's literature. Now please leave.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:43 AM on July 28, 2007


He's not even that good at it. The Behe books should obviously be filed in the bathroom, with the bindings removed for customers convenience.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:58 AM on July 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


The bookstores are going to assume the books have been stolen and order more which he will then hide, creating a massive feedback loop that popularizes the books he doesn't want read which, in turn, will create another feedback loop dooming us all.
posted by stavrogin at 12:13 PM on July 28, 2007


I'd love to see the shoplifting rate vs. book title data.
posted by Chuckles at 12:57 PM on July 28, 2007


Why couldn't there have been anything like this when I used to read SF books? It was annoying to be looking for good stories about dystopia and space exploration and to be pulling out title after title of "fantasy", with medieval dragons and flying ponies on the covers.

Hey, I could help you! I hate having to search through the space opera to find my medieval dragons and flying ponies! :)

(More seriously, as much as I might decry the ghettoization of SF&F, I prefer it when it is in its own section - it's so much more convenient for me. But I actually like both dystopia and dragons. But not flying ponies - I like my magical ponies to stay firmly on the ground. Maybe they can have horns, and violently savage any unchaste person who dares to approach them.)
posted by jb at 12:59 PM on July 28, 2007


touche!
posted by rolypolyman at 1:12 PM on July 28, 2007


Yeah. This is just as stupid as the last two times it was suggested by other self-righteous assholes who think they're clever or artists or whatnot.

I'd LOVE to be able to change categories. 'Oh that book? That's in the SHIT SOMEONE MADE UP SECTION!' Sure. In a perfect world that would be funny, and in some ways I even believe it's true. But.

There are lots and lots of reasons why this is just rude and a bad idea in actuality, no matter how amusing it may seem at first glance.

He better hope he doesn't get caught. Seriously. I'd kick him out of my bookstore.
posted by geekhorde at 3:55 PM on July 28, 2007


This kind of thing is why I'm prone to giggling fits when people suggest tossing out DDC and LC and shelving books in public libraries using the same system Barnes and Noble uses.
posted by QIbHom at 4:42 PM on July 28, 2007


When I worked in a bookstore in college I commonly asked customers how they'd organize books, especially when shelving in a section I didn't know much about. This led to our store selling almost double the number of technology-related books than any other store in our chain, and also to my gaining an interest in tech and eventually working in the field. You could say reshelving changed my life.

After I left, the corporate headquarters sent down mandates about where things should be shelved. A year later the store closed. I'm not saying that was the whole story (the chain had plenty of other problems) but having seen the new shelving plan I can't imagine it helped.
posted by cali at 4:47 PM on July 28, 2007


'Oh that book? That's in the SHIT SOMEONE MADE UP SECTION!
Problem is, when it comes down to it, isn't it all "shit someone made up"?

"Fiction? Look in the 'shit someone made up' section. Science? Well, it's all based on theories, and Popper et al tell us we can't prove a theory, so it's there too. Religion? Well, at best it's a guess, so we'll put it right at the back. Biography? Impossible to know the truth of someone's life, and even autobiographies by nature cannot be objective, so toss it there too. Art? Observation distorts reality in favour of the observer, so put it at the top of that tiny little staircase on the left-hand wall."

Come to think of it, I'd like to work in a bookshop organised along those lines too. Preferably serviced by an outdoor dunny in a rat-infested alleyway, so I've got somewhere to put "Atlas Shrugged" and "The Fountainhead".
posted by Pinback at 1:38 AM on July 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think it's pretty amusing, and I spent a lot of time as a bookseller. The feedback loop is unlikely; sales are tracked at the register. He should definitely be commenting on Amazon, too.

I want dystopian fiction book recommendations from rolypolyman and jb, and I want to visit RedEmma's bookstore.
posted by theora55 at 2:43 PM on July 29, 2007


I think it's pretty amusing, and I spent a lot of time as a bookseller.

Just to be clear, are you saying you wouldn't have minded if you'd made the rounds and discovered a bunch of books had been reshelved by someone like this? The amusement value would have made up for the nuisance of putting them back where they belonged? I'm genuinely curious.
posted by languagehat at 5:38 PM on July 29, 2007


someday, i'll finish the book i'm writing about that bookstore. it was absurdism, an obsessive-compulsive's nightmare, and .... well, we called working there the Sisyphus Project.

the reason we did what we wanted was because the owner was literally batshit insane, and after about three years of following his orders (wherein, for instance, one would do days and days worth of organizing, only to be pulled off just before finishing with "that's not a priority") i sort of had to do things to keep myself from killing him. or as i used to imagine, in long freezing afternoons wearing Bob Cratchit gloves and longjohns because he hadn't paid the heat bill, walling him up in the gigantic mounds of rotting books upstairs with bricks made of Tom Clancy books.

the bookstore still exists, in a pale shrunken shadow of its former cancerous glory, owned by the landlord who kicked Old Man Carlson out with the help of the Feds (IRS). i can't go there, for moral reasons--the landlord is the meanest sonofabitch i ever met, and i can't stand the idea of running into him or giving him a dime. if you ever visit downtown Duluth, it's there--i don't even know if it has a name now.
posted by RedEmma at 10:49 AM on July 30, 2007


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