Friday, April 29, 2005

Grocery Books and Senate Holds

According to Edward Wyatt of the NYT, in whom I still trust on matters bookish, the latest expanded venue for book sales is hardcovers in the supermarket. Kroger and Wegman's are two examples of chains who've installed comfy, browsable, much larger sections of new titles.

Of course, this development brings the pulp to the people, and that's good. However, it also reduces bookstore purchases, which are the avenues for profitable backlist sales, and groceries tend to roll the merchandise through even faster than the big book chains. And if you're a mass-market paperback author, beware. There may not be room for you, even though the drug store and grocery used to be the fiefdom of the paperback rack. These upscale grocery-shoppers want bargain hardcovers by bestselling authors please, and even after the higher hardback retail price is discounted, the stores realize a fatter profit margin on the stiff-spined.

So is this the great new access point for authors to find their readers, or does it continue to thin the number of people allowed in the game? Read and decide:

In Gov't news, we've been hearing about the Senate's judicial filibuster (gasp-will the Dems or won't they?) and the move to make judicial confirmations subject to straight majority (gasp-will the GOP go nuclear?). In general, I believe in moving these kinds of things things along and putting hands to real issues, not simply the issue of who will shepherd the issues. I don't believe a Senate minority of any party should hold judicial appointments hostage, but especially when we have a crisis of vacancies in our circuit courts. Today, people seeking swift justice are even more out of luck than usual, and that isn't fair or proper. Perhaps, we could thin the dockets by passing "loser pays" legislation. That unlikelihood may happen before we get a single new judge.

I further believe that if judges are considered legal professionals who are trying to objectively interpret the laws passed by legislators, I don't care much how they voted, what they eat, who they love, etc. Let's put tighter oversight on so-called "legislating from the bench" from any corner of someone's agenda, because it circumvents our representative democracy and elevates the judiciary to the final authority, an inappropriate position for the unelected and one that rightly belongs to the People. Let's have more referendums on the hot topics for mass social legislation, and let's hustle the black-robed bodies into those empty seats.

In a related story, today's WSJ editorial highlights how the Senatorial "hold", which is merely an unwritten tradition (bleck, phooey on that) is being allowed to stall the placement of at least seven other government appointees. This President, any president, ought to be able to fill his administrative posts quickly unless there are concerns of the most egregious nature, and party affiliation and/or political ideology don't count. As any one knows who's ever worked for a provisional supervisor, they don't get the same kind of loyalty, respect, or execution from their employees as a permanent boss. Does anyone think that our government doesn't have some important tasks it should be doing? The Senate on both sides is spending so much time and energy over the picking of teams, by the time we ever get to playing the game, the sun will be down and we'll all have to run home.
If there's a home left to run to, that is.

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