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?
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