Pre-emptive annual X-Factor blog post: Cowell can recycle the same crap year after year, so why can’t I?

Yes, it’s true, I’ve posted a version of the same blog post ever year for the last 5 years or so now, and yet it continues to be apt. So I might as well get in early and beat the rush. And yes, this piece will appear in print for the first time when The Changing Face of Consumerism is published as a physical edition by Clinicality Press in the coming weeks. And no, there won’ be any stands for it in retail outlets anywhere.

The Changing Face of Consumerism: X-Factor Christmas Number One Shocker

I suppose it was inevitable really. Despite the efforts of [INSERT SOMEONE WHO THINKS THEY’RE CLEVER HERE] to outmanoeuvre the hype machine with some tongue-in-cheek alternative hype, there weren’t really any other contenders for the supposedly coveted UK Christmas Number 1 slot. And so, And so, for the third / fourth / fifth / sixth / etc (delete as appropriate) year in succession, the winner of X factor, the ITV ‘talent’ content that runs for what seems like about 50 weeks of the year, has had the best selling single at Christmas.

Congratulations to [INSERT NAME OF X-FACTOR WINNER HERE]. No, really: I don’t have any real issues with him/her, other than that s/he was compelled to audition for such a credibility-free contest, and [INSERT NAME OF SOME SMUG GOBSHITE CELERITY] was backing him/her from the off (well s/he has to do something to keep themselves hip with the kids, right?). But I do have serious issues with the process.

I’m not saying that the whole audition / rehearsal / live performance / public voting / etc. process isn’t hard work or nerve-wracking for contestants, but really, when it comes down to it, what we’re watching is a glorified and overhyped karaoke competition. And the public fucking love it. They get to vote for their favourite, and the lucky winner, who’s already done all of the necessary marketing and promotion for the last few months on prime-time television, gets to put out a record that half the nation are going to buy because they voted for it. Yes, the public gets what the public wants. And once again, the public wants mediocre slop. I can cope with that: it was ever thus. But what’s the alternative?

Aye, there’s the rub: there is no alternative, at least not that’s readily available or easily accessible. And this is where I return to a point I’ve made on various occasions throughout the year on this (and other people’s) blogs: the marketplace is becoming less competitive, not more. Consumer choice is practically a myth. While the large corporations (in all industries, not just music) are so fixated on finding the Next Big Thing – and fast – the idea of the next medium-sized thing and the slow-burning long-term investment thing ceases to be of interest. They want success and they want it NOW! The shareholders want to see a return – NOW – and in order to achieve these things, there’s no scope for taking a gamble. If an executive makes one wrong decision, they’re out of a job (although probably given a substantial golden handshake for their royal fuck-up because that’s how it works these days. There are rewards for failure if you’re high enough up the corporate ladder. But I digress…)

Long-time readers of my blog may recall my bemoaning the closure of York’s last independent record store in the summer, and may also remember, more recently, my griping about the fact that neither of the remaining two stores, HMV and Zavvi (formerly Virgin) were stocking singles any more, on any format. Well, I dropped into HMV earlier this week to find that HMV were actually stocking singles again. That is to say, a single, and they had literally hundreds of it on special display stands around the store. Yup, [INSERT NAME OF X-FACTOR WINNER]’s single, [INSERT CORNY TITLE HERE]. At £3.99 a copy. Four fucking quid! So what if I wanted to buy a different single? Tough shit. If I wanted a single, it was ‘[INSERT CORNY TITLE HERE] or nowt. Suffice it to say I left with nowt.

My local Sainsbury’s is tiny and poorly stocked, but it’s within reasonable walking distance (quite important for someone who doesn’t drive). It doesn’t really stock many CDs – a few greatest hits and various artists compilations and perhaps the top ten chart albums. Again, this doesn’t exactly represent a great choice. But no matter. My local Sainsbury’s doesn’t stock singles. But wait, what’s this? I strolled in yesterday evening for a few groceries and was stunned to see, by the entrance, a huge display stand of black cardboard with a huge red X on top. The plague? Yes and no: row upon row of , [INSERT NAME OF X-FACTOR WINNER] singles. At £3.99 apiece. Four fucking quid! Etc, etc.

Like CCTV springing up on every street corner, within a matter of days there’s been a viral explosion of these CD displays. It’s remarkable how quickly they’ve managed to record it, get the artwork done, the CD pressed and distributed. Anyone would think the record company had known all along. Makes one wonder just how much of the million-pound recording contract that is the X Factor prize goes into subliminal messaging during the series… especially amid the outcry from fans of [INSERT CONTENDER HERE] who said they couldn’t get through (although I can’t say that bothers me too much, because [INSERT CONTENDER HERE] is a cock anyway and we all know these things are rigged).

So what’s my point? It’s hard to say any more. I’ve never been lethargic in seeking out the things I like, however underground, esoteric or unobtainable via the more obvious commercial channels. But I’m growing increasingly frustrated by the evermore obvious squeeze being placed on choice. Most people won’t go to the lengths I’m willing to, and the casual buyer simply won’t purchase something they can’t find. Put simply, artistic merit and even the idea of quality is being shunned in favour of a quick buck. I’m convinced it’s not sustainable, but right now I can’t see where it will end.

XFactor

Really, why do people let these smug cretins tell them what music they like (while being conned into believing they’re actually choosing their ‘winner’)?

 

And if you’re loving my work, there’s more of the same (only different) at Christophernosnibor.co.uk.

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Smooth Salsa and Jizzy Jazz: The Great Corporate Crap Giveaway

I recently lent a friend of mine, who works for a large financial organisation, a handful of CDs. When he returned them, there was an extra disc. it’s not unusual: he often lends me music. On this occasion, said disc was housed in a gaudy digipak decorated with segments of primary colours and it was still in its shrinkwrap. A gift? Or an accident? No. Entitled ‘A World of Discovery’, the album was a compilation that promised ‘a journey through the world of jazz, soul, funk and blues’, and it had been ‘specially compiled’ for another financial firm by Jazz FM. The bastard! He’d offloaded this piece of corporate crap on me, knowing full well how much I despise jazz, soul, funk and corporate crap because he didn’t want it. And who could blame him?

There’s something that makes this kind of corporate crap particularly abhorrent. Sure, I get the idea of a ‘global’ corporation doling out promotional gubbins that reflects and encapsulates the spirit of their ‘brand’ (or what they hope is the way their brand is perceived), and a compilation of music from around the globe says ‘multinational’, ‘global’ and ‘inclusive’, and music supposedly transcends all borders of nation (the fact I think this is utter bollocks is something for another time). But it’s about as credible an image of global culture and a celebration of diversity as a Benetton ad. United colours? One world together in music? One world under the cosh of capitalism pretending to be friendly would be closer to the mark. Does anyone actually buy this idea? Do the creators even think that this is the face of finance, or are they laughing up their expensive suit sleeves and steaming up their Rolex watches?

There’s another thing, too. I appreciate that some would accuse me of being narrow-minded musically at loathing jazz, soul and funk, and while I’d strongly disagree, the point is that I do loathe jazz, soul and funk and I’m certainly not alone or even in a minority. I daresay that in attempting to associate themselves with the artists concerned (I’m assuming the artists all gave their consent and were paid handsomely for selling their music and souls in such a way), the company in question think they’re being ‘hip’ and presenting a ‘cool’ image to potential clients and partners. But in producing and distributing a compilation such as this, they’re making a huge assumption regarding people’s musical tastes. Either that, or they’re hoping to dictate people’s musical tastes, in which case they should be sponsoring something on MTV or Radio 2. But Jazz FM? What does that say about the company, really?

Sidestepping that question and letting it serve as a rhetorical device, I’ll admit that I haven’t actually played the CD at this point. But then, do I really need to hear the ‘old school raw soul quality of Australia’s Electric Empire on their number ‘Baby Your Lovin’’, or ‘Let me Show Ya (Funkhaus Sessions)’ by Jazzanova of Germany?

Against my better judgement, I bung the disc in the player. It’s fucking hideous and sounbds exactly the the way you’d expect it to. A flicker of flamenco, a splash of salsa, with the horrible drum machine backing favoured by the Peruvian pan flute bands that play on the high streets. Laid-back Latina grooves smoothed to slick perfection transports the listener to a forgettable restaurant where the wallpaper, food and music all melted into one beige blur not even worthy of a smiley snap for Facebook. The ‘United Kingdom’, incidentally, is represented Escala, with their multinational smash, ‘Feeling Good’. Er, yes, quite. Escala, the ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ finalists covering Nina Simone. What in? Well, in keeping with the jazzy jizz of the rest of the material here, stringy sonic spunk.

In a time of recession, I do understand that companies need to find new promotional angles, and even when times are tight, it’s necessary to speculate to accumulate. But surely that’s all the more reason to ensure that promotion is effective – and cost effective. Even if the clowns who cooked up this cack-handed codswallop campaign genuinely believe that most people do like jazz, soul, funk and blues, what do they expect the recipients of these discs to do with them? Play them on an evening or at dinner parties to show how sophisticated they are, while subconsciously deciding they ought to do business with the company who gave them out? But as we’ve established, not everyone likes jazz, soul, funk and blues – so then what do you do it you’re the recipient of one of these dodgy discs? Landfill seems horribly wasteful. There’s the local charity shop, but who would buy it and would you want to be seen donating it? And while CDs make great coasters, it’s not everyone’s style. Which means the best option is to pass it on to your mate who happens to write music reviews and ranty blogs about pointless causes of irritation.

 

yikescds

A substantial stack of crappy unwanted CDs, not unlike the one in my house.

 

And if you’re loving my work, there’s more of the same (only different) at Christophernosnibor.co.uk

The Changing Face of Consumerism XI: Back Down on the Street, or, Going for Bust

So a mere matter of days after my last piece on the struggling high street, I woke up this morning to more news of high street stores experiencing a drop in like-for-like sales in comparison to the same time last year, with HMV delivering particularly disappointing figures marked by sales being down 8.2% in December 2010. It is disappointing, too. Of the bigger chain music stores, I always preferred HMV (although Andy’s records had the edge for a while both in terms of pricing and range). First and foremost, they carried a broader selection with less mainstream releases sitting alongside the chart material. And, while a tad pricey, their range of back-catalogue titles was far superior to Overprice / Virgin.

But rather than work to their strengths and make a virtue of their difference, HMV followed the template of its competitors and having killed off the (albeit limited) vinyl section in favour of calendars and games, continued over a lengthy period of time to reduce the music stock – to make room for more games, DVDs and gadgetry. When the music occupies the smallest portion of a music retailer’s floor space, you have to ask questions. HMV’s struggling is an example of how diversification can be counterproductive, and rather than appealing to a broader customer base, can serve to alienate the one already established. How can a music retailer seriously expect to compete in other markets already dominated by specialists. More often than not, gamers will head to somewhere like Game for games, just as you’d probably go to a clothes shop for clothes, a bookstore for books, an electrical store for electrical goods – unless, of course, they go to the supermarket for the whole lot. After a while, I stopped asking questions and also stopped going in, because each time I did I found myself leaving empty-handed and frustrated because they never had the title I was after in stock. I’d invariably end up purchasing my music on-line because I couldn’t source it anywhere else.

I don’t for a second mean to suggest that I’m responsible for HMV’s declining sales (and I certainly played no part La Senza, the purveyors of slinky lingerie, being called into administration with a loss of 1,300 jobs, prompting headlines such as ‘Lingerie firm goes bust’ etc.), but while my musical tastes may be ‘minority’, there are many other minorities just like me, and collectively, they represent a substantial market.

As mentioned in passing in my previous piece, it’s not just music that I have problems tracking down, and it’s not always obscure items I struggle to find in shops either. As if to prove the point, only this week I decided I wanted to get a desk lamp. As my desk also happens to be the dining table and space is of a premium, I figured a desk lamp that clamps onto the shelves to the side of the table would be the best bet. But could I find one anywhere? Working out of time, my choices on a lunchtime were limited, but there is an Argos superstore and BHS Home Store (yes, British Home Stores Home Store) which specialises in goods for the, er, home, rather than home and clothing. A quarter of the store is given to a lighting department, but unless I wanted a lime-green desk-lamp with a regular base I was out of luck. That is, unless I wanted a ludicrously glitzy lamp shade with dangling glass bits all over it, which I most certainly didn’t. Argos carry a much more substantial range of desk lights, from bendy to angle-poise, but the only clamping ones are LED lamps, which just don’t give off enough light. I’d still need to put on the main ceiling light to see my screen, which defeats the purpose of a desk light I can angle in my corner without illuminating the whole room. Really, how hard can it be to find a simple item like a clamp-fitting desk lamp that takes a proper, regular bulb?

The answer is that it’s not hard at all. Five minutes on-line and I found I was spoiled for choice. Even so, on-line shopping is no substitute for real shopping as it’s often hard to get a sense of the precise dimensions or appearance of an item – you can’t ‘feel the quality’ from a description and photo, however detailed. Thankfully, it transpired that a local independent store I pass on my way through town after work had the best selection of all. Once again, hooray for the independents!

 

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A clip-on desk lamp, earlier today

 

And if you’re loving my work, there’s more of the same (only different) at Christophernosnibor.co.uk

Too Busy to Blog!

For many writers – both accomplished and aspiring – a common obstacle to productivity is inspiration. Most people run dry at some point. It’s not a brag when I say that this isn’t a problem for me: no, my real problem is time. There simply isn’t enough, and there are only so many ways to stretch it.

Over the past few years, a fair few people have asked me how I manage to maintain my output, how I find the time. The answer has always been that I make time, and type quickly. But then, every now and again, it becomes insustainable, and when it does, something’s gotta give.

I didn’t set out to become a music writer: it was something I once dreamed off, made a few stabs at and did on a very part-time and voluntary basis for a couple of local and regional papers back in the early 90s before giving it up. My applications to music papers for paid work had been unsuccessful, to the extent that none of them had even bothered to reject me, and I decided it was simply too competitive for me, a person who’s not particularly competitive by nature. Moreover, not given to being all that outgoing, and steadfastly refusing to suck up or otherwise ingratiate myself, I decided music journalism wasn’t the career for me. I was 25, working full time and studying at the same time, and in my spare time, attempting to carve out a novel. I was going to be a proper writer!

It took another five years to get my first book, Bad Houses out into the world, and the novel I had been working on, Exiled in Domestic Life, along with its sequel, Rusty Bullet Wounds, remains languishing, unpublished. Still, a lot’s happened since then, and while I have received some help and support – not to mention invaluable exposure – from people who I’ve encountered along the way, my weekly blog on MySpace did contribute considerably to whatever readership I achieved.

People are always going on about the importance of maintaining a blog as a means of building and maintaining one’s profile, and at the time, it seemed that they were right, but when the MySpace community dissolved before my eyes, so the hits to my blog plummeted. Rebuilding a readership from scratch just felt like too much effort for questionable reward, and by this time I had begun reviewing for Whisperin’ and Hollerin’, something I had fallen into quite by accident, but it felt good to be reviewing again. It had been noticeable that the reviews I had posted on my blog had been the least successful by miles, receiving half the hits of my rants. Having a proper outlet for the reviews was an extremely positive thing, and besides, it meant that even if I wasn’t being paid, I was getting free CDs and entry to gigs – plus being able to say that I was a writer for a recognised site meant I was able to approach PR companies directly and have them add me to their mailing lists. This meant even more freeness.

At present, I’m managing to review approximately half of the stuff I get sent, and given that I’m kicking out an average of one to two reviews per day, you can get an idea of just how much the reviewing gig’s grown in the last couple of years. But I don’t want to be known simply as a music writer: I do still write fiction, after all, and have some pretty hefty projects in the works, with the story ‘Corrupted from Memory’ which appears in the new Paraphilia anthology A Dream of Stone being the first of a new wave of fairly dense pieces penned recently.

Then there are the interviews. I’d be daft to turn down the chances I’ve had to meet up with various bands, or to conduct email interviews with Malcolm McNeill and JG Thirlwell. They’re once in a lifetime opportunities. None of them came about because of my blogging, though, and finding the bile to spew out a weekly rant in a blog just wasn’t something I had in me.

The discipline of maintaining a regular blog is healthy for a writer, primarily because it’s so easy to procrastinate, defer and postpone: a commitment to produce a piece each day or week can be a great motivator and can provide the impetus to knuckle down to writing and attempt something new. By the same token, it can all too easily become an obstacle to producing anything else, with the main work becoming sidelined by the thing that’s supposedly a mode of liberation and promotion. Moreover, in churning out pieces on not only a regular but a frequent basis, it’s easy for the quality of output to suffer and to find yourself saying the same thing. If it gets boring to write, it’s going to be equally boring to read: if and when that moment arrives, it’s time to quit.

I had other reasons to quit, or at least cut back though: well, something had to give. I’m no longer studying, but am still working full-time and then some. I can’t not: there are bills to pay, and very few writers actually get to make a living from it. Besides, getting to teach English Literature to undergraduates, albeit on a part-time basis, is often rewarding, but make no mistake, it’s hard work, especially in conjunction with holding down another job at the same time. So how do I find the time to write? Make time, and type fast, of course. But without blogging, at least as often. Has it damaged my readership? No, I don’t think so, and while I receive more hits to my site via searches for ‘Christopher Nonsibor reviewer’ and Christopher Nosnibor Whisperin and Hollerin’, I still get the same number who arrive at my site having searched for ‘Christopher Nosnibor writer’ or for one of my books (more often than not THE PLAGIARST).

But then, I’ve recently found myself wondering if maintaining a blog is as important as it used to be – not just for me, but in general. I still read voraciously, but the number of blogs I read has diminished, and I instead prefer to read a small number irregularly, rather than a large number regularly, partly because many of the blogs I follow tailed off around the same time I allowed my blogging activity to become less of a feature of my writing output. Is the golden age of blogging over? Does it really matter? A world in which everyone has a blog is a cluttered one, but shouldn’t be mistaken for a well-informed one. Knowledge may well equal power to an extent, but with no shortage of blogs brimming with ill-informed opinions and even outright hateful propaganda receiving ample traffic, it would equally appear that misinformation is power, and besides, who cares about what you’re saying as long as you’re popular. The interest in celebrity blogs and Tweets remains unabated. Ok, so bloggers like myself (i.e. the authors of the blogs I like to read) are never going to be in competition with these ‘celebrity’ retards, and never were, but there comes a time when pissing in the wind stops being fun and simply becomes a thankless slog.

For me, the blog always served a dual function: to vent or to comment on the things I had no other outlet for doing so, and, if I’m honest as an indirect means of promotion. Now, I have other channels for both promotion and venting, and besides, I’ve come to the conclusion that the world only needs so many producers of culture and of comment, given that there are only so many consumers. Personally, I try to do both, but it’s hard to consume while producing. It’s simply impossible to read an article and write one at the same time. So, while I continue to work on the job of perfecting a clone or two to enable me to multitask more effectively, the blogs will remain on the back burner while I crack on with the real work…

And of you’re loving my work, there’s more of the same (only different) at Christophernosnibor.co.uk

A Dream of Stone (and Other Ghost Stories), edited by D M Mitchell and Dire Mccain is out now in the US through Paraphilia Books.

Record Store Day Bonanza…But For Whom?

I’ve spent many a long hour lamenting the demise of the independent record shop. Even second-hand shops are hard to come by now, and record fairs just aren’t as common or popular as they used to be. That I’ve had jobs in both new and second-hand stores means I have particularly fond memories, but mostly, I miss the record-shopping experience. Browsing on-line just isn’t the same, even with the tailored ‘recommendations’ sites like Amazon make. There’s just no substitute for being there, rifling through the stock and picking something out just because it looks interesting, or because the dude behind the counter’s playing something that’s completely incredible and you can’t leave the shop till it’s in your possession.

While the number of record shops may be rapidly diminishing and articles are published daily decrying the death of physical formats, the collector’s market is unquestionably alive and well and positively thriving. it’s just a matter of sourcing the goods, and the fact that physical copies are produced in smaller runs.

Of course, it’s far better in economic terms to produce fewer units and have them sell out than it is to massively overestimate potential sales – just as it’s better for a band to play a small venue and sell it out than to play to a half-empty bigger venue. But when it comes to Record Store Day, people go a little crazy. Perhaps in part this is due to the incredibly limited runs of unusual pressings by acts with large and devoted fanbases, and that’s something that’s always going to get the collectors in a frenzy – myself included.

So I rocked up at Jumbo in Leeds at a little after 10am to discover a queue containing a good forty or fifty people. ‘Fuck that’, I thought. Life’s too short for queueing, and besides, I’m plain lousy at killing time. Electing to give it twenty minutes or so, I cut back out onto the Headrow and made my way towards Crash, only to discover the situation there was the same, only worse. Much as I love vinyl and record collecting and music in general, I’m not so desperate as to stand halfway round the block just to get into a record shop on the off-chance they might have something I’m after, so I headed up New Briggate to the second-hand record store Relics, who used to have a sister shop in York called Cassidy’s. I have fond memories of Cassidy’s and picked up some great items in there, including my copy of the Throbbing Gristle ‘Five Albums’ Box Set (which despite the being a little battered, was still a steal at forty-five quid), and Relics is similarly likely to have unusual nuggets tucked in the racks.

Rifling stock beats the crap out of standing in line, but in the end I decided to pass on the few bits I was contemplating and get back on my rather more specific mission. Tom my dismay, the queue outside Crash had grown, so I legged it back to Jumbo where there queue had gone and the simple in / out barrier was facilitating a free flow of customers, even if they were three deep at the counter. I had only half a dozen items on my list – I wasn’t out to buy for the sake of it, and I had only limited funds – and they’d all gone. It was as though a plague of locusts had descended on the place. I left empty-handed. It was 10:30.

So, back to Crash, where I joined the queue. As I waited, I wondered if I’d have fared better if I’d just joined the queue in the first place, or if I’d just arrived earlier (not that 10am was exactly late). The guy in front of me suggested perhaps not: one of his mates had turned up at 6am, and there had been others there before that: some had even queued from 10pm the night before. The guy on the door informed us that there had been no fewer than 90 people waiting outside when they opened the doors. I can’t think that there are any records I’d be that desperate to get my hands on, and in my experience, most titles crop up at a reasonable price at some point (there was a time in the 90s I’d have happily paid fifty nicker for a copy of The Last of the Baby Boomers by La Costa Rasa, if only I could have found a copy. 2002, a copy surfaced on eBay and I bagged it for £2.50 as the sole bidder). Many of those in front of me were clutching Jumbo bags that were bursting at the seams.

Half an hour later, I was granted entry to the tiny emporium, and struck silver, but not quite gold, in that I failed to secure a copy of the Interpol 12” (300 copies on red vinyl) or Nirvana’s Hormoaning reissue, and they were out of the 10”by The Black Angels. I didn’t even ask about the 10” of The Queen is Dead or the latest Earth LP (only 150 copies for the UK), but did manage to bag myself the Joy Division / New Order 12”, a copy of the single by Prurient, plus the British Sea Power double 7” set for my mate. None of these items was cheap, but I figured it made sense to up the prices in the hope that the goods would go to genuine collectors rather than carpetbaggers who’d swoop in and buy an armful just to flog ‘em on eBay, forcing the desperate completists to pay through the nose. It seems only fair that the labels and – hopefully – the artists should benefit from the buying bonanza.

Alas, on arrival home I discovered that all of the titles I’d failed to get were already on eBay, and numerous copies of each had already sold as Buy It Now sales for well above the retail price (while noting with a small degree of satisfaction that the Joy Division 12”, which I’d considered steep at £15 was selling for anything from £30 to £60, while some fool had shelled out a full ton on the thing.

I’ve resisted the temptation to plug the gaps in my collection and spend money I haven’t got bidding on these items. Six months hence, or maybe later, when the initial flurry of redistribution has died down, or the popularity of some of the bands has diminished, I expect I’ll find them for a price closer to the initial retail price. If not, I’ll live. After all, it’s only rock ‘n’ roll (and I’m all about the music, man, and not capitalist greed).

And if you’re loving my work (or want to give me some records) there’s more of the same (only different) at christophernosnibor.co.uk

Order! Order! Book Retailer Defies Logic and Sends OCD Shoppers to the Edge

I’ll admit that I’m prone to extreme pedantry and display many behaviours that are classic traits of the obsessive, the anally retentive. To be honest, I’m fine with that. I have a lot of books, records and CDs, and so storing them in alphabetical order by author or artist makes sense if I want to avoid having to spend hours rooting through haphazard piles of stuff. That I store items in order of publication or release date for those authors or artists I have multiple items by is also helpful, if not quite as essential, and that all of my records are stored with the A-side facing the front and records and CDs are kept with the labels the right way up is simply a preference. In a world where have very little control over anything, it’s comforting to maintain a sense of order in those aspects of my life where it actually benefits me. I choose the alphabetical by author / artist system because it’s ‘the standard’. Libraries, book stores, record stores… the simple fact id that it makes sense and is based on an indisputable logic.

Yesterday, for something to do and because, since they became a ‘media’ store rather than a music store (CDs now occupy less space than DVDs and are generally receive equal billing to console games), HMV have been known to stock some reasonable cult fiction at generously discounted prices. Burroughs, Palahniuk, Bukowski, Plath; all names I spotted amidst the predictable selection of music-related books, celebrity biographies and populist cack, and all with a decent whack off the RRP.

What perplexed me, however, was the arrangement of said books on the shelves. Stephen King books were interspersed throughout the display, which was some five shelves high and eight to ten feet wide. Burroughs’ The Place of Dead Roads was somewhere in the middle, while Kurt Vonnegut’s Armageddon in Retrospect was on the top shelf on the far left. What the fuck?

It actually took me a little while to realise that the books were arranged alphabetically by title. Apart from biographies, which were placed by order of the surname of their subject. And apart from books about a band, in which case the book’s placing was dictated by the name of the band. And apart from Frankie Boyle’s My Shit Life So Far, which appeared to be amongst the Cs.

On reflection, I suppose that’s probably right.

Of course, this begs the question, why aren’t the CDs arranged using the same system?

 

And if you’re loving my work, there’s more of the same (only different) at Christophernosnibor.co.uk