31 March 2017

An Annoyance in Flyover Country

I'm irritated at a flyover-country publishing issue. Not because I'm in flyover country, but because the publishing-industry segment is… and its attitude has made things difficult.

Two thousand seventeen has been a bad year for my friends and acquaintances: I've been forced to buy too damned many condolences-for-your-loss cards. Thereby begins our tale of cultural imperialism in the greeting-card industry — which is essentially headquartered in Kansas City just as strongly as trade book publishing is headquartered in New York City. (That there are non-KC alternatives makes just as much difference to the industry and retailer weltanschauung as the fact that there are non-NYC alternatives in trade book publishing.) Unfortunately, I have now exhausted the supply of non-sappy, non-religious condolence cards at five local retailers (three chains, two truly local), leaving only one more outlet… and some of these people know each other, so a "repeat" isn't appropriate.

This is the attitude that needs adjustment with a 2x4: There's a significant part of the population that doesn't want religious messages on condolence cards, due to sender preference or known recipient preference. There's an even larger part of the population that doesn't want sappy condolence cards for the same reasons. It appears that none of that population lives near Kansas City, or more to the point is employed in product development at any of the big greeting-card firms; and it appears that little of that population has any influence over retail-outlet stocking preferences, either. This should not be surprising, as the more-opulent suburbs of Kansas City tend to be on the Kansas side of the state line, and therefore in Brownback-voter territory.

The local acclaimed "independent" bookstore, whose stock is drawn from a much wider variety of publishers than is, say, a B&N's — and being right down the hill from a "hippy" university might be expected to be more, well, ecumenical — isn't any better (not to mention being more expensive). Even the card selection at the local Whole Paycheck has this problem; it's a small store, with limited stock, but still…

Thank you ever so much, greeting card industry. You're probably going to make me fire up the desktop-publishing software and apply my pathetic artistic and graphic design skills (hey, I can do functional and easy-to-read damned well, but I make no pretense otherwise), then hope I can find appropriate stock and an appropriate freestanding envelope, for the next one. But today, I don't have time, especially since it was an overnight notice of something that happened a couple of weeks ago.

Yeah, that really helps everyone involved.