Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

17 Jan 2002, 7:50 a.m.

Yesterday I went to a store (The Dollar Tree) to…

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2002 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

Yesterday I went to a store (The Dollar Tree) to try to buy blank videocassettes, and what happened? Nothing. Not even ice cream. Or, rather, I couldn't find any.

(Have I complained here before about the metaphor of the Dollar Tree? I mean, do the dollars grow on the tree? Is the tree made of dollars? Does it cost a dollar? Would one maybe hang one's dollars on the dollar tree, as on a coat tree? I'll stop before this gets as bad as the "unlock your future" rant.)

I often find myself intrigued at what books pop up in the not-quite-ultimate remainder bin of 98-cent-stores and the like. And I often feel guilty for wanting to buy some of them. But the selection at the Dollar Tree contained several quality items! Examples:

  • We Know What to Do by presidential candidate Lamar Alexander (probably wearing his plaid flannel lumberjack shirt in the jacket photo).
  • A rather good book that I have read, Erik Tarloff's Face Time. Like The West Wing, but darker and more sexual. A dollar?!
  • If you loved Gavin de Becker's The Gift of Fear, you'll like his sequel concentrating on the safety of our children, Protecting the Gift. I actually considered buying this.
  • My freshman year I was so interested in Howard Kurtz's Spin Cycle that I ordered it via Collected Thoughts, a bookstore on Euclid Avenue. (I passed Collected Thoughts with Mike Carns every Friday night that we visited the Berkeley Rose Garden.) I didn't buy that many books that year, except for coursework, but I thought that media-politics expos� was worth the money. I must have lent it to someone or left it in the Stockton house, much like The Orwell Reader, because I can't find it now. And now it's at the Dollar Tree.
If I were an author who found her books showing up at the Dollar Tree, maybe I'd comfort myself with the hope that my works would reach a larger, less well-to-do audience. But I'd probably still feel awful.

Oh, you know that some authors are so famous that their names show up in much larger type on their book jackets than the actual titles. However, yesterday I saw the converse: a self-help book on whose jacket a price sticker covered up the author's name.