It’s not new.

Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve done a Sunday MGC post. I want to start off by thanking Brad for switching with me. Real life has been tossing me not just curve balls but has been beaning me on the head consistently. But that’s not what this post is about. Life happens and I’m moving on. The publishing industry, not so much.

One of the first stories to catch my eye this week was one from Publishers Weekly. First off, I do recognize the source and know that it is one which is firmly in the pocket of traditional publishing. Even so, the story had me shaking my head. It seems that there was a Digital Book World panel titled “Will Bars Save Bookstores?”. Now, take a moment to consider the implication of that. According to PW, American Booksellers Association CEO Oren Teicher basically said this is a euphemism for all the new and innovative things bookstores are doing to get customers in the door. Among the “new” things mentioned during the panel were bookstores running summer camps, offering dance classes, hosting travel events and more. These so-called disruption events were meant to interrupt the flow of money and attention to e-books and bring bodies into the stores.

The problem I foresee with all this is multi-fold. To start with, locally owned bookstores, and even chain bookstores until a few years ago when corporate took away much of the power local managers had to plan events, held summer reading camps. They brought in other local businesses to help support one another. They had signings and travel-related events. None of this is new. To act as if it is is to do what the traditional publishing industry and the big box booksellers have done for years, ignore the facts. These events do get people in — in you publicize them, if you have employees who are trained and knowledgeable in the topic of the event, if you properly prepare your store for them and if you make those attending feel welcome. Sticking the special event in the back of the store in a poorly lit area where they are interfering with the flow of traffic is not welcoming to the person conducting the event, the people attending it or to those customers who simply stopped in to buy a book. And, unfortunately, the last several events I attended at a big name bookstore did just that. It was as though the staff could not be bothered with the event so they put is as far from not only the front of the store but where the author’s books were stocked as possible.

Now, selling beer and wine in a bookstore. Sure, a lot of bookstores now have coffee shops. But let’s be realistic here. How many of those people stopping in for a cup of coffee actually stay to buy a book? I would wager that most do not. Okay, the bookstore gains income from the sales made in the coffee shop but does that really pay for the loss of shelf space?

Let’s take that one step further to adding wine and beer into the mix. Now, I’m like a lot of folks. I enjoy a drink now and then. However, I’m not exactly thrilled with the idea of my local bookstore becoming the local pub. No, it isn’t for the reasons you might be thinking. The legalities of what the bookstore owner and employees face are daunting. There is the process of being granted a liquor license and the expense of it. There is the responsibility of making sure only those old enough to drink are served alcohol. They will have to make sure those buying alcohol don’t take it out into the store — or off premises. They will have to make sure no one is over-served. There is the potential legal responsibility the owners and employees will face if someone has a beer or glass of wine there and then leaves the store and causes harm to another.

The list of potential legal issues is much longer than I have said.

Then there is the impact such a cafe/bar will have on the patrons. How many parents are going to feel comfortable letting their children roam a bookstore where alcohol is served? Bookstores used to be one of the few places a parent could let their children have some freed while Mom and Dad looked for books they wanted to read. If you take that away, you risk losing an important section of your customer base.

What it all really comes down to is this: what is more important — is it more important to get people into the store or is it more important to sell books? Getting bodies inside the store is great but not if it doesn’t translate into sales. A bookstore that relies on selling alcohol — or coffee or anything else — instead of books needs to look at what is happening and why. Is the store too large? In many cases, the answer to that is yes. It is my belief that the day of the large big box bookstores is over. Companies can’t afford the overhead of these stores that are often in the 100,000 sq ft size range or higher. That is why they keep looking for these new money-maker schemes to help them.

Is it time to look at your inventory and make some hard decisions? Absolutely. Bookstores need to be responsive to their clientele. That means the local managers need to be given more control over inventory. What sells in Brownsville, TX is not going to be the same thing that sells in Lancaster, CA or New York City. Sure, the best sellers will be popular but local tastes do vary as do local interests. Let the local managers have more shelf space to promote local authors, even indie and small press authors. Right now, the big box stores don’t seem to be doing that.

Before Borders went out of business, I had a long talk with one of the local managers. Her complaint, and it was one I have heard echoed by B&N managers, was that she could no longer order large quantities of books she knew the local schools had on required reading lists. Oh, she could order them but they had to be paid for in advance by the teacher, etc. Before, a teacher could call her and say she needed approximately X-number of a book and the manager could order it. Now, all she could do was special order the book as students or their parents came in. Then it would be a week, at least, before the book would be there for the student to pick up. Parents and teachers gave up and went to Amazon. Why? Because there was no waiting for the book to be in stock and, if they had Prime membership, they got it in two days.

I’ve run into this with other big box bookstores around the country. Some bean counter in the corporate office decided doing away with the goodwill of their customers was more important than maybe having a book sit on the shelf for a couple of weeks before it was bought.

Yep, that’s the way to win over customers.

So, instead of mending fences with the local reading community, they’re going to try all these “new” and “innovative” ideas. Riiiiiight.

But, lest you think it’s only booksellers turning a blind eye to what needs to be done, Author Earnings has posted its Print vs Digital, Traditional vs Non-Traditional, Bookstore vs Online: 2016 Trade Publishing by the Numbers presentation. There is some very interesting information in the presentation. What struck me, and what made sense, is how print sales increased in 2016 approximately 3%. Why did those sales increase? Because the agency pricing was no longer in effect for e-books. That meant e-book prices went up (even though publishers kept telling us the end of agency pricing meant they would decrease). To counter that, some retailers — Amazon — discounted the price of print books more. That meant a number of readers bought print who had been buying digital.

However, if you continue scrolling through the presentation, you will see that the trend to by print over digital is on the decline once again. Why? Because retailers are no longer discounting print books as deeply as they had. That once again makes e-books a better buy in a number of readers’ eyes.

Did we hear any of this from the traditional publishing sector? Nope. We heard them crowing about how their print numbers increased and digital sales decreased and e-books were no longer the hot item. Ergo, e-books were dying. Riiiight.

When an industry based on people reading ignores the fact that the current generation and a large part of the generation before it is a digital generation and is glued to their tech devices, that industry is circling the drain toward doom.

I don’t think this is the end of traditional publishing or of bookstores. What I do think is we are seeing a shift toward something different. Indie bookstores are once more starting the thrive in a number of areas and I welcome it. Those stores have learned they need to cater to local customers and their tastes. They know they can’t afford the huge real estate footprint the big box stores still insist upon. They know they can’t have a huge inventory. They also know they have to excel at customer service and know their stock. Most of all, they have to make their customers feel important. Those are lessons the bigger stores would do well to take to heart.

As for traditional publishing, it will continue to totter on. Some publishers will manage to find a way to survive. Others will go out of business and still others will find themselves merging. A few years ago, we had the Big Six. Now it is the Big Five. I have no doubt we will one day see the Big Four and then Three. Unless and until corporate understands that they have to adapt their business model and listen to their customers, I don’t see any way this is going to change.




  1. I’d love to be able to demand of the publishers to know how many of their executives actually READ? Even their own books.
    They are the allergist I refused to go to who smoked and his office reeked.
    They are the manager of the shoe store who buys his own at a better store.
    They are the auto dealer whose employees buy at a cheaper competitor.
    They are the teacher whose kids go to private school.
    They are the cop who lives in the suburbs.
    They riding the horse until it drops dead for as far as it will go.

    1. I hear you, Mac, and your comment made me remember something that happened the other day. We have a new grocery store in the neighborhood, a Fiesta. There were some gnashing of teeth when it was announced Fiesta was moving into what had been a Tom Thumb (then, when Tom Thumb sold to Alberstons, it became a Minyards Sun Fresh before closing). There were some in the area who feared Fiesta would not be what we needed here.

      Anyway, I was there the other day because I needed to pick up a few things and I want to give the store a chance. Imagine my surprise to find one of the employees from another local store (major chain) shopping there. When one of the other shoppers recognized her, she admitted she worked at the other store but said she came to Fiesta because it had better produce (and prices for produce) and better meat. She went on to offer some excellent advice on how to prepare a couple of quick dishes.

      The moral of the story was that the new kid on the block was taking into account what the neighborhood, as well as the surrounding neighborhoods, wanted and what we were willing to pay. They are keeping the shelves and meat counter stocked, something the local Kroger isn’t doing. Sure, they are more expensive on some things but less expensive on others. And they are getting return business because they make the customers feel like they matter and are getting a good bargain for their money. That is a lesson a lot of corporate types in publishing need to learn.

      1. Wow. Corporate needs to make a visit to that Kroger. Won’t affect prices, probably, but I’ve personally never been in a Kroger that didn’t keep things stocked, even in inner city areas.

        They sound like they’re taking a page from the bookstores’ book, except for that being a local thing instead of a top-down one.

        1. After seven or eight in the evening, a number of the Kroger stores in the northwest suburbs of “greater” Cincinnati seem to have poor stocking, especially on weekends. Also, their deli staff seem to the be slowest people on Earth still possessing a pulse. Alas, the nearby competitors seem to have deli counters just as slow. OTOH, I’ve never had these problems going to their locations in Blue Ash and Montgomery.

          1. This is the first major store I’ve seen where the deli doesn’t open until 0800 – if you’re lucky. So they miss the work crowd and the before school crowd. That said, the deli is staffed, with one exception, by great folks. It is really the only reason I go back to the store now. It is the only store within a couple of miles that carries Boar’s Head.

            1. Green Bay has Fiesta stores, but they carry the same lines as my locals (Now all the same chain, Jack’s, and they use Super Value to supply the storebrand ,Everyday Essentials), but they do have a better meat dept, and are larger so the ethnic food is more varied (Green Bay also has a large Hmong population). When in the GB area I tend to use Woodman’s (six packs of Mexican Coke!), and soon a Meir’s is to open there. Here in the twin towns, it is only the 3 Jack’s, Walmart, and Aldi’s. I lament the loss of good fresh fruit. The Jack’s on my side of the river has the best fresh veg and fruit selection, the small Jack’s (was the first in this area) has as good quality, but less selection, and the other larger Jack’s in Marinette really needs a new produce manager. Walmart and Aldi’s have poorer quality fruit and veggies. I guess it’s because we are at the end of the supply chain. For example just plain old grapes here are running $2.49/lb and the best are not that great looking.
              I really miss HEB (a regular one in Cleburne, the Plus in Burleson, less so, too crowded). Stopped going to Kroger’s some time ago (a theme it seems, the stores my parents went to in Memphis are the same sort of lacking. Kroger seems to be headed down hill.) and had Brookshire’s in Alvarado that was not bad, and Joshua that was better, and the David’s in town changed to Brookshire Brother’s, but are mainly afloat due to people who can only walk to the store I think.
              Well, I could get some HEB stuff sent here as they have a web site and ship now, but produce is not something I want to oder online. Though I should see what some soda would cost to get up here (love the H‑E‑B Pure Cane Sugar Original Cola and Rootbeer)

        2. Initially, after the Sun Fresh closed, most of us put it down to the store suddenly being busier than it had been. But that was four months or so ago, more than enough time to adjust their stocking and reorder system. What is really sad about it, I can go in during the morning or late afternoon and have the same issue. It is almost as if they stock for the beginning of the advertising week and don’t restock until weekend and, even then, they don’t carry enough stock, especially in their meat section.

    2. “I’d love to be able to demand of the publishers to know how many of their executives actually READ? Even their own books.”

      That’s a damn good question.

  2. I find it a sort of bittersweet Pollyannaism that publishers are celebrating the fact that their primary distribution outlets are finding it necessary to shift their business model away from selling books in order to stay in business.

    If the big bookstore chains survive it will because they make the sort of transition that the big chain drugstores made when consumers changed from over the counter patent medicines to prescription drugs. Drug stores still sell drugs, but for most of them it is a few shelves in the back of the store, behind the groceries and makeup and magazines and so on.

    Walgreens is still a major retailer, which is good news for Walgreens, but not good news for the manufacturers of Swamp Root Liver Oil. In twenty years Barnes & Noble, say, may still be in business, but if they are they will be known for coffee bars or clothing or toys–not as the place you go to buy books.

    In the minds of the publishing execs their partnership with chain bookstores is so central that they simply can’t grasp that it is possible for the chain stores to stay in business but not keep the publishers afloat.

    1. Barnes and Noble was the place I did my Christmas toy shopping during the past few years. Last Christmas, I shopped at Amazon. Bigger selection and no crowds.

    2. Exactly. The trad publishers tied their wagon to the big box bookstores with some really crazy contractual terms. Now they keep preaching that the only way for them to survive is for bookstores to survive. Yet they aren’t seeing that bookstores are decreasing their shelf space with every year that passes.

  3. It’s sad how many stories can be summed up, “Those laws of economics? They apply to you, too. Yes, really.”

    There was (WAS!) a bookstore here in $HOOTERVILLE that had a fair selection of books, some CD’s (was a while ago) and some random stuff. A different place took it over and removed anything of local interest… and it promptly went out of business. [Gomer Pyle quotation here.]

    1. It is amazing how the bean counters don’t seem to understand the basic laws of economics, isn’t it?

      Your story about what happened to your local bookstore reminds me of the argument the city was presented some years ago when a couple of our city councilmen decided it would be a good thing to outsource our library. At the time, there was only one company in the country doing the outsourcing — there may be others now. I don’t know. When the city had the rep come in to discuss what their company could do to help the city save money while not losing our library, it was a complete and total failure (thankfully).

      You see, the selling point was that if the city outsourced to this company, the city would save money because they ran their client libraries just like Walmart. When pressed, the rep admitted what this meant was they stocked all their libraries with the same books, no matter what local interests might be. So libraries in small town Oregon had the same exact books and media and we would as did libraries in New England.

      No input for local interest. No support for local authors. We would be Walmart. Fortunately, enough of us raised hell that the council voted it down. And look, if small town councilmen can see that isn’t a financial or business model that will work, surely the big wigs in NYC can — except they apparently can’t and that is why publishing is continuing to swirl down the drain.

  4. I so wish that our local Barnes and Noble stores were more willing to work with local authors. The Borders stores were … but the B&N outlets can’t be bothered. Even the one local independent bookstore is more focused on being a children’s bookstore – they can’t be bothered any more as well.

    1. As those in our military have long known, loyalty flows both ways. I tend to show just as much loyalty to a store or a brand as they show me.

    2. I know. I remember when B&N were happy to work with local authors, even indie ones. That changed some time ago. Now they don’t even want to talk to us. Not that it should surprise me, especially considering how they are making the stores less comfortable for shoppers to browse or just sit and read.

  5. I’m reminded of what happened with computer swapmeets. They used to be an absolute zoo of technology vendors, and so popular you often had to wait in line to get in. Savings galore and well worth the five bucks at the door. And out of 100+ vendors, there might be 3 selling toys and gadgets; the rest were all computer tech stuff, exactly what you came for.

    But as the computers-as-an-appliance market grew and the DIY market faded, the outfits that run these swapmeets saw the future as gadgets and toys, and instead of making it easier for the tech vendors (who were no longer making enough money at swaps to be worth the time, effort, and especially the cost), they encouraged the gadget dealers, who had far less overhead and could afford the still-steep table fees. And in short order the vendor list was 50 gadget dealers, and 3 tech dealers. Attendance dropped proportionally, and most of these venues closed entirely, or shifted to hosting a completely different market.

    Meanwhile, all the former customers went off to eBay, Amazon, and NewEgg.

    BTW, former Lancaster CA resident here. 😀

    1. But as the computers-as-an-appliance market grew and the DIY market faded…

      Ah, but there was a brief golden age during the transaction. I once picked up a MicroVAX II for $25 at the local university’s surplus shop.

      And then there was the time when a coupla guys with a truck dropped a complete PDP-11/23 system on my porch, rang the doorbell, and sped off.

      *sigh* Memories.

    2. I miss the old computer swaps. I used to go into Dallas to one and always found great buys.

      My dad has family in Lancaster and the surrounding area, which is why i used it as part of the example.

    3. Last time we went to a computer show was because we knew there would be vendors with monitors from off0lkease machines… i think. But then, Newegg’s outgoing UPS office is the same one that delivers to my home.

  6. Now, all she could do was special order the book as students or their parents came in. Then it would be a week, at least, before the book would be there

    Ran into a similar thing with the local Staples and hard disks. They had a little room up by the cash registers where they would keep small but expensive items like hard disks They’d put empty boxes on the shelves that you’d take to the cash register; the cashier would go into the little room and fish out the actual box holding the hard disk.

    At some point, they started putting more empty boxes on their shelves than they had hard disks in their little room. One day, this happened:

    CASHIER: “Don’t have that one in stock, but I can order it for you. It’ll be here in a week.”

    ME: “The only reason I came here is that I need the disk *now*. If I have to order it, I’ll go to Amazon, which is cheaper.”

    About a year after that, my local Staples closed.

    The insult they added to injury? *After* they closed the store, Staples started sending me spam about all the amazing things that were on sale today only. Not a peep from them when I actually had a local Staples and could have used the spam.

    1. I’ve had the same thing happen, not only at Staples but at Best Buy. Then they wonder why more and more of us are turning to online outlets to buy what we need.

      1. My local Best Buy has decided they need to dedicate even more space to the Apple section that is always empty and doesn’t even have a rep that knows Apples.

  7. The chain bookstore executives and the panelists at DBW remind me of the scene from Alice in Wonderland where the Mad Hatter doesn’t understand why putting butter in his watch won’t fix it. After all, he’s using the best butter!

  8. Then you get the Local bookstores who scream to the heavens that they are local and serve the needs of the community (somehow managing to imply anyone buying books from a big store is evil, and also that they should be subsidized somehow for providing a valuable service), and yet seem to purposefully limit who they are willing to sell to.

    I walked into one when John Ringo was selling huge and tried to find his newest paperback and not only wasn’t it there but they had no Baen books at all. This seemed odd since in most of the big stores David Weber alone had three or more shelves all to himself. The SF/Fantasy section was smallish but well stocked with books that didn’t look like they were SF/Fantasy books (as if the publishers were embarrassed to deal with aliens or elves) and I couldn’t find a thing to read. So, I went to the History section which was next to the political section. Now, the political section was exclusively left wing (but often is in all book stores so that didn’t twig me that much), but the history section was also almost all left wing and explicitly so. Which was something I’d never seen in a history section.

    The bookseller caught me leaving and asked if he could help me and I told him what I was looking for, and he pretty much looked down his nose at me and said something like ‘we don’t stock those kinds of books, try the gutter, slime reader’ (that may be paraphrasing but it’s accurate to the tone).

    Not sure if the store was a hobby, or if it was unrepresentative, or hell, as far as I know the customers of the store WANTED to be told what to read and have their choices validated by their ‘betters’. Not a clue.

    Though, I wasn’t particularly surprised when I drove past there a year later and found a bar in its place.

    1. I’m a little more forgiving of the locally owned indie stores. They don’t have carry as much stock and they do tend to stock 1) what they want to read and 2) what their regular customers ask for. We used to have an indie store in the area that had a lousy SF/F selection. I started going in and built a relationship with the owners. Over the course of the next few months, I spent enough time there talking with them and explaining what I was interested in and that I had friends who would come shop there as well if only they carried more SF/F. It was a slow process but it worked and, from then until the store closed when the owners retired, that was where I knew I could find the sf/f I wanted. They also started bringing sf/f authors for signing, including Anne McCaffrey among others.

  9. It’s a general rule of thumb that if your store turns to something not really related to your core business to try to stay in business, you’re dead.

  10. Borders is dead. Barnes and Noble, and here in Canada Chapters/Indigo, are becoming toy stores. Increasing space is devoted to plush toys, decreasing space to books.

    Why? Inventory is expensive! That’s why. Also, retail space is expensive. Fantastically so. Therefore, they have to fill that huge store with something that -moves-. If it is on the shelf longer than a month or so, they lose money on that item.

    Books and toys don’t have expiry dates, but they do have “no longer worth it to sell” dates. That is the time past which taxes, rent and interest have eaten the profit on that item. The days of the old bookshop, where the owner can dig a dusty copy of Favorite Author out of the back room, are long gone.

    This leads me to ask a question. How much does a print-on-demand machine cost? Ingrham can punch out p.o.d. books for five bucks each. Could a mega-store like B&N put one of those in a retail location and do the same? While you sit and enjoy a coffee?

    I personally like to go to the bookstore. There I am in the company of at least a few other nerds, usually. I can cruise the stacks and get that book-fix. And if the shelves are crowded with N.K.Jemsin clones, that’s ok if I can get what I want. Having a p.o.d. that will spit out The Witches of Karres in twenty minutes, I’d sit still for that. Its a book.

  11. I think that if I were Jeff Bezos I would buy a company that makes Print On Demand machines and spend a bundle making them smaller. (The one at the NC State bookstore takes up about 25 square feet.) At first, I would put them at the distribution centers for Amazon Prime Now so that they could vastly increase the number of books available for delivery within two hours. However, the end game would be a POD machine small enough to fit into any Starbucks. (If Starbucks isn’t interested, Panera Bread, or even Dunkin Donuts – Somebody will be willing to partner with Amazon.) Add in a web interface so that you can order a book and pick it up along with a cup of coffee, or a stop for lunch, or even order a book while you’re having lunch and have it ready when you leave.

    If the big publishers don’t want to play in the POD space they can continue to languish. If none of them cracks while in survival mode they might find themselves replaced by small houses that specialize in editing and packaging Indie authors.

    1. Add in a web interface so that you can order a book and pick it up along with a cup of coffee, or a stop for lunch, or even order a book while you’re having lunch and have it ready when you leave.

      Probably part of the Amazon app would be simplest– have a sub-section that maps out restaurants that partner with them, and lists their menu, you can make a reservation or even order before you get there and your book shows up with the tab.

      Kind of like their home services section. (which is not bad, the only issues I’ve had were with guys gaming it)

    2. Tom said: “However, the end game would be a POD machine small enough to fit into any Starbucks.”

      Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about right there. A machine that even a burger flipper can put paper in the back, and a book comes out the front. Books become a profit center in a cafe, instead of a cafe being a profit center in a bookstore. Downside, those are going to be some expensive paperbacks. $15 at a guess, author gets $0.50 for every copy.

      Or, and this is really shooting for the moon, a repeal of the regulation that makes book inventory a taxable asset instead of a cost.

      Down deep under it all, I’m of the opinion that taxation is what’s killing most of these things. If it used to be profitable to have a little bookstore on every corner and now its not, what changed?

      The only things left that still exist on every street corner are food and booze. Everything else is a Big Box with two employees in it. In Chandler Arizona at the Chandler Mall location, the B&N often has one (1) employee at the back door cash register and one (1) at the front. That’s two people in a huge store, strictly there to take the money. No attempt at sales or service. Just checkout.

      But that’s no surprise, Home Depot is about the same. 10k square feet, five employees, self-serve checkout.

      Coming soon, B&N with -no- employees. Robot cashier, controlled exit.

      Take a run around town next time you’re out and see what’s really for sale out there. What is moving? In what categories is there more than one Big Name you can buy stuff from? Food is the last place where the little guy is making a living. Because even poor people gotta eat.

      What does that mean for an author? We are in the same boat as visual artists, sculptors, actors and crafts people. There’s been no money in woodworking since the 1970s, writing finally caught up. A few stars get ever diminishing slices of the shrinking pie, everybody else gets a day job.

      But the Pussy-Hat crowd wonders how a rodeo clown won an election.

      Still, the Internet is available as a printing press. My cost of setting up a web site and flogging my own wares is the cost of a decent cover for a book. Hundreds, not thousands. I can afford that.

      It is a possible future. People sitting in cafes, sipping over-priced latte while reading on their phones. Wasting time after the two hour commute because they’re half an hour early for their job at the restaurant. Whee.

      1. Or, and this is really shooting for the moon, a repeal of the regulation that makes book inventory a taxable asset instead of a cost.

        This is actually a favorite disaster prep change of mine…we want to encourage folks to have inventory, because that means that if things go seriously wrong, we’ve got flexibility.

        1. A friend of mine, who managed a store in the B Dalton days, thought stores should be able to deduct inventory as advertising expenses.

    3. With the news breaking today that Amazon has decided to disrupt auto parts stores another thought for POD occurred to me. Every single Chilton’s manual ever written available today.

      Oh, don’t try to convince Chilton’s to give up their printing and distribution business right away. Just make a deal on all out of print manuals, and those which now sell so few that they were about to be discontinued.

      If existing auto parts dealers want a POD machine, fine. If not, both Amazon and Chilton’s can sell POD editions on the web and at Amazon POD sites that support books of that form factor.

      1. Became less of a fan of Chilton’s manuals when I saw Ford parts in a Chrysler manual, because generic drawings…. Got the actual shop manuals for my Subaru. Dunno if that’s possible these days. DVDs maybe?

  12. The event I’m looking forward to is a really good source for indy text books.

    There’s the pop-(subject) market, and the online curriculum markets, but there’s an absolute killing to be made if folks can manage a reliable source of text books…especially if they sell them for less than gag-worthy amounts.

    1. Note:
      I have a long, long list of examples of stuff that was known to be false for decades before from the objective subjects in high school– including simple things like biology. The appeal to authority about “oh, what if they’re wrong” isn’t going to hold much water.

      1. I cut some slack for items that have been ‘this decade they say A, last it was B, before that i was A’ and back and forth almost ad naseum (like a lot of the advice on babies and nutrition I keep running into). But really in those cases the appropriate answer for a text book is “A is what is currently thought, at the time of this writing, to be most accurate. B was considered accurate, and before B they thought A. Here is a brief summary of the case for each.”

        1. Ditto, but there’s no excuse for using known bad embryo drawings and flatly stating that embryos go through all the stages that their ancestors did, especially when actual photographs of embryos are so easy to get.

          1. My mom once got a little annoyed when I didn’t pick up on a joke that relied upon knowing the phrase “Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.” Once she’d explained it, I told her it was a little odd for her to expect to get a joke based on debunked science.

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