A few years ago, I noticed a bunch of books sitting behind the information desk at the St. Mark’s Bookshop in the East Village. The books were multiple copies of Don Delillio, Paul Auster, and Raymond Carver. I asked the sale clerk behind the counter what they were doing there. As it turns out, independent book shops put certain authors behind the counter to keep them from leaving the store before they have been purchased. If you go into the stacks of St. Mark’s, you’ll find signs within the titles, directly customers to the information desks. The other authors also include Jorge Luis Borges, William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, and Hubert Selby. A bit further south in Nolita, McNally Jackson Books uses a similar strategy. Charles Bukowski makes an appearance, with Delillo and Burroughs giving a repeat showing. These choice titles are not the current best sellers, but are works from those aggressive writers who capture college-aged (give or take a few years) minds. Those books, like White Noise or Junkie, feel dangerous the first time they are read. In a way, it makes sense that that those book are the ones most often stolen.
Somewhere there is this whole small oddity, there resides in compliment making it for behind the counter.