02 October 2005

Get Thee to a Bindery

Alexander Chee is one of my favorite authors. He used to live in my neighborhood, and before he got a boyfriend and moved away (not necessarily in that order... I'm not exactly privvy to the details of his life), I had a stalker-esque crush on him. He did a reading a couple of years ago at the Brooklyn Public Library, and I went like a high-school girl just to see him in person. Writers are my rock stars, kids.

Anyway, he wrote Edinburgh, which I found haunting and beautiful. I'm eagerly awaiting his next book. In the meantime, I read his blog (and you should too).

In a post discussing the return of Oprah's book club, he dropped some fascinating information:

Out Magazine ran an independent marketing survey that I recall well from my time there (I was the assistant editor during the magazine's start-up, and filled many, many business plan binders). It included much fascinating information that changed capitalism's approach to gay and lesbian people forever, for better or worse. I'll say better for now. I'd rather be marketed to than bashed in the alley. The biggest buyers of books? Lesbians, at 33 a year. Straight women clocked in at about 10. Gay men ran to an average of 8. Straight men? Less than one. An average of less than one. The publishing industry was like, Got it. And everyone moved on.
Apparently, I need to buy more books.

My experience this summer, though, makes me wonder: I don't suppose the marketing gurus of the world track who's taking books out the library? The $30 non-resident library card I got while in Pittsburgh turned me into an avid library user; I'm poor, remember, and the books I took out and read during my 5 months there would have cost me over $500 had I bought them myself.

Pittsburgh's lucky -- it's got at least one great library, started by Andrew Carnegie (in a fit of guilt, no doubt). On each visit there I saw a really wide range of people. But I'm still wondering... who's using the libraries in the rest of the country?

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