Friday, January 05, 2007

Travel Assistance For SF Bookworms

I caught a great little footnote on SF Signal today about a website designed to help all of us speculative fiction bookworms when we’re abroad. Collecting Science Fiction Books is cobbling together an interactive map to help you find bookstores dedicated to selling science fiction, fantasy and horror books, well, anywhere. Let’s say you’re taking a vacation/you’ve been kidnapped by little green men and released in a small potato field in a town that’s not your own/you’re away on a business trip/you’re on walkabout/whatever, you finish or lose the book you’re reading, you don’t have a replacement, the news stands or chain bookstores nearby only have crap and you really need a fix of something good: all you have to do is go online (okay, fine, since you’re hitting the net anyway, you could go to any one of a number of online magazines or e-book sites, but I’m one of those old-fashioned types who’s just gotta have the security blanket feel of paper [hardcover or soft] in hand), punch in the web address, point to where you are and you’ll find the nearest SF book emporium. And because it’s interactive, we, the book-buyers of the world, can add our favourites to the list. Genius!


As you can see, (at the time of this posting) the list of locations is still pretty small – a rag-tag band of bookstores huddled in California and the lonely little point of White Dwarf Books up here in Vancouver, BC, Canada (which I added to the roster just this evening). That’s why all of you have got to head to the site and make that list more comprehensive! Whether you live in Newfoundland & Labrador, Ohio, Brazil, Denmark, Turkey, South Africa, Hong Kong or New Zealand, it’s time to tell speculative fiction nuts from around the world where we can go to buy the best SF books if we’re in your neck of the woods.
Now, you may be worried that his site is or will turn into some kind of freebie marketing billboard for bookstore proprietors to shill their wares. And yeah, for a cynical second, so did I. But you know what? As long as the site stays focused on listing the whereabouts of SF-oriented bookstores, so what? Most of these specialty bookstores are independents and the men and women who operate them work damn hard to keep their businesses alive against the crushing competition from huge corporate conglomerates which may be able to discount prices, but have poor selections, no older stock and staff who rarely know what they’re selling. Think of it this way, your local SF niche bookstore comes through for you in terms of keeping a wide variety of stock on hand and by giving you recommendations for new titles and authors that you can trust because you’ve probably built a relationship, so, it isn’t asking much to go a little bit beyond giving these small merchants your business and recommend them to the world. We’ve gotta look out for each other.Log on to Collecting Science Fiction Books and add your local SF specialty shop to the list.
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