True Crime, or The Failure of Capitalism

After those heady two weeks in March when my book was on the front table of Barnes & Noble, I went to a nearby branch to visit my book in its permanent home. I searched in the American History section, then with increasing dismay in the long shot of Business and Investing, only to admit defeat and ask a salesperson for help. After looking it up in his computer, he steered me over to…true crime.

Explain to me what my book has in common with Imperfect Justice: Prosecuting Casey Anthony and OJ Is Innocent and I Can Prove It, just two of the face-out books on that shelf. I was just so baffled. Why had my book been so grievously misshelved? It even says “History” right there on the back. Isn’t it in the publisher’s and the bookseller’s interest to categorize my book correctly? Aren’t our interests aligned? Isn’t this what capitalism is all about?

Someone should write a book about how the market contains its own loopholes. Oh, wait, I kinda did.

Not long after this bookstore vertigo, I logged onto Goodreads. Up popped a string of recommendations for me based on the books I’d placed on my virtual shelf, and there it was again: crime, crime, more crime. What was going on? My identity started to waver. I don’t read crime, and I didn’t think I wrote it. Why was the world telling me otherwise?

Then I looked a little closer. Goodreads was urging me toward Raymond Chandler and James Ellroy. That’s when it occurred to me that crime isn’t necessarily a bad place to be, at least the corner of the bookstore where crime means being critical of corruption, suspicious of authority, and amenable to stealth, cunning, and strong drink. As if to punctuate my newfound identity, a Google alerts popped up to tell me my book had garnered a review on jail.org. If only I were truly a member of the crime community and could log in to read it, but alas I’m only an interloper. It’s back to history for me.

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