Saturday, March 18, 2023

Human choices for human people.

I just discovered a application in one of supplier's websites that I didn't know existed and which will make things more efficient in the future.

I feel stupid when this happens. I stumbled upon this app, and it makes me aware that there are probably tons of apps that I don't yet know about, that I should know about, and that I could probably learn if I applied myself to that goal.

See, I'm still stuck in the mindset of trying to learn it all in my head. I come from a time when if you wanted info you had to go to the library or buy a book or go to school. A time when the media was newspapers and magazines that were tossed when you were done skimming them, plus a half hour news program once in the evening. When if you wanted to catch a movie, you had to go to the theater during its brief run or skim TV Guide listings for late night showings. 

So obviously there are lots of disadvantages to still being of that mindset. I tried a point-of-sale computer and hated it. I have been paying by check for years and only yesterday did I realize that I have only a couple of places I still send payments by mail. I've been dragged kicking and screaming into the future. 

And yet...

There is so much capacity for info out there that it is very easy to get overwhelmed and unfocused. I'm not sure that curating a bookstore isn't done better on a human level, one book at a time. Algorithms are pretty soulless, no matter how well designed. It seems to me that algorithms can only analyze what is, not what could be.

Making choices based on what's in my head by definition makes Pegasus Books more individual and eclectic. I believe human people still recognize and appreciate human choices. I think, in some ways, that's why small bookstores have made a comeback.

There is still a huge amount of groupthink in books. I don't know if the ABA is doing us all favors by recommending the same 25 books to every bookstore on their list. 

I suppose concepts like reading lounges and coffee shops are a way to bring the humanity back to the process, but even those are manifestations of groupthink. (Personally, I think time, space, and energy are wasted on these things.) 

My bookstore is stocked enough that I simply wait for a book to come to my attention rather than seeking out books. Sometimes I'll get a whim to find certain types of books, or I'll make an accidental discovery. A passing mention in an article, or a good review, or simply more than one person asking for a title.

Oh, I'm not above going to Tiktok books to see what's hot. (The response to these books have been rather amazing to me.) But I try not to be completely captured by them either. 

In other words, keeping the bookstore limited to the capacity of my own memory and tastes and guesses keeps to store interesting--to me and, hopefully, to my customers.