I remember going from bookstore to bookstore looking for a copy of Steve Harvey's "Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man" when it first dropped. The same thing happened when I tried to get my hands on a copy of Jay-Z's "DECODED." I searched and "checked back often" like the salesperson told me to do when I was looking for a copy of Tom Burrell's "Brainwashed" and they had just ordered five new copies. I came back and bought two.
I had no intentions of EVER stalking bookshelves for a good 30 minutes - let alone purchasing - a copy of Karrine Steffans "Confessions of a Video Vixen," but I did yesterday.
I think when "Confessions" first came out I wanted to read it, but somewhere down the line I made up in my mind to "stop the brainwash" and not spend my money or eyeball energy on a book that I already know how it ends. The woman was an industry bustdown, now looking for closure. The End.
A couple of weeks ago, an idea for an essay popped in my head and "Confessions" is one of the books I want to use for reference. My initial plan was to borrow the book from somebody, but then I figured the quickest thing would be to just go buy it myself. Besides, I have a "thing" about lending out my own books--I don't. Best to get my own copy so I can highlight, underline and not ever let anyone borrow it.
After work, I popped over to Barnes & Noble (the one on Jackson & State has THE BEST clearance ever; I come up often). I look in the Biography section, no luck. I check out the teeny tiny African-American section, nada. I check the center aisle displays and staff picks. I realize I'm at the point of needing customer assistance, but I'm hesitant. Something just feels very wrong about asking for this book.
I go to the woman at the help desk and psyche myself up into believing I'm really asking for the new Suze Orman. In my best work voice I say, "Excuse me? Can you look up a book for me? I'm looking for *slight pause here for dramatic effect like I'm not really sure what I'm looking for* Confessions of a Video Vixen?"
She knew exactly what I was talking about and immediately started typing away,checking the database. "They should really make this into a movie; This would be perfect for that," she says. Is the book really that good? Did she just say something racist? I'm thinking a few things after that comment, but I don't bother to probe further. I'm just happy to hear it's in stock.
She directs me downstairs, to the Music section. Why didn't I think to look there! Of course a book about an industry inside-her would be in the Music section!
I get to the music section and it's not there; it's not under "S" or "K". I keep looking, in case it got alphabetically misplaced. I get down on my knees crouching tiger style looking for it. I'm invested at this point. I have to find this damn book. By now, I've spent a good 25 minutes looking for it. There's no more time to be embarrassed. I walk over to the chick shelving books and hit her with the work voice. "Excuse me? Have you seen a copy of Confessions of a Video Vixen? I don't see it in the Music section."
"Yep, right over here." She leads me over to the desk, kneels down, reaches waaay back and voila! Comes up with a paperback copy of "Confessions." Ask and ye shall receive because that was the ONLY way I would've found that book! I felt like I just came up on the prize in an easter egg hunt. Which got me thinking....
Are People Stealing Books by Black Writers???
Maybe a lot of books by Black writers are in high demand right now, which is awesome if so. I've noticed that when books are very popular or in limited quantity, stores will keep them behind the desk. At the front desk, there's a small display of books, all by Black writers. There was "Brainwashed," Janet Jackson's latest book, the new one by Russell Simmons and a couple of others. And who knows what else was hiding behind the desk downstairs with "Confessions." It was just really interesting to me. There wasn't one copy of these books out on the floor. You are forced to ask for them. Maybe when I go back I'll ask what that's all about.
Oh, and the essay is coming soon. It will be DOPE!