Thursday, July 8th, 2004

I decided to toodle down


I decided to toodle down to the States today, just for the hell of it. I went down to Omak, Washington, which is a fairly small place about an hour away. I wandered into a bookstore, where I spied a copy of Neal Stephenson’s Confusion. Not just a copy, but a proof (also known as a galley), which is a freebie sent out before the actual release of the book to publishers, bookstores, and the like. It cost $5 US, which even with exchange is a steal for something that won’t be in paperback for a good year and a half.

So, being a bookstore veteran myself, I jokingly mentioned to the owner/clerk that technically she wasn’t even supposed to be selling these proofs (handily indicated by the “NOT FOR RESALE” emblazoned on the cover). A bookseller in Canada would have given me a nudge and a wink and laughed as we merrily traipsed over the half-assed rules of some distant publisher. Not so with the Yanks.
This woman gave me the most pissed-off “EXCUSE ME!?!?” I think I’ve ever heard. I guess Americans hate being told..well…anything, really. Her reaction was about what I’d expect if I’d been wandering through the town with a “Free Saddam” t-shirt and offered free beheadings, not throwing some well-meaning jive her way.

At any rate, it’s kind of cool to go down to the States on a whim, but when you get back to Canada it’s like a weight just came off your shoulders. They’s a cranky bunch down there. 🙂

Warren Frey is a journalist, freelance writer, podcaster, video producer, and all-around media consultant currently based in Vancouver, Canada. His written work has appeared in such publications as Metro Vancouver, the Westender, Mac | Life and the Japan Times.

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