Horror – The Ugly Three-Headed Stepchild by Thomas M. Malafarina
I originally started writing this particular blog (rant) posting back in September 2012 for Moon Books, but never completed it. I suppose I got busy or lazy or maybe a little of each. Now with some poking and prodding by Brandon Mullins I am finally doing so. Especially since here it is two years since starting this blog and the subject of this rant has’nt gotten any better. In fact, it has gotten worse.
Something mysterious and perhaps underhanded is happening to the horror genre which has been bugging me off and on for the past decade; enough to make me want to vent my frustrations. As the play on words in the title of this blog suggests, horror is being treated as a less than favorable step-child and not being given the proper respect it deserves. (Or at least what I think it deserves). Some of you may have noticed what I am about to describe for you while others may have not. More than likely most people wouldn’t care either way. I have been meaning to address the issue for many years, first as a fan and consumer of horror movies and books; and now as an author of horror fiction.
About ten or so years ago, before online stores like Amazon had become so incredibly huge, I often would stop by our local Best Buy store and peruse there very abundant selection of horror DVDs, never failing to find something new and exciting. However, one day I stopped by and noticed that they had rearranged their video section and the entire horror section had disappeared. Most of the DVDs were still there but they were scattered among other labeled genres such as Action, Mystery, Drama and so on. I was so angry and so frustrated with having to search for the stuff I craved that I immediately left the store and have not purchased a DVD there since. As a result, I’ve only been back to Bust Buy maybe three times in the past ten years and if I recall they hardly have any DVDs available any more so I suppose the point is now moot.
Then a little over a two years ago, I was in a Books A Million Store in Lancaster PA and was looking for the horror section. And guess what? There was none. This upset me a bit since my books were available on Books A Million online under the horror search option. So why wouldn’t they have a horror section in the actual store. I went to the sales counter and asked the manager why there was no horror section, especially when there were sections for the most obscure topics one could think of. The manager looked at me like I was completely clueless (which I suppose I was) and said it was simply store policy. What the heck did that mean? I went back to sections like “Mystery and Suspense” and sure enough that was where I found Stephen King and Dean Koontz’s books.
Ok, I was bummed but figured maybe in a stretch they could fit in that category and I suppose I could live with that. But H.P Lovecraft, Bram Stoker, Mary Shelly and others; please… give me a break. I walked out of the store frustrated and luckily stumbled into a West Coast Video story where they actually DID still have a horror section, with lots of great movies. I was so happy I bought several. Way to go West Coast! Also in fairness; if I remember correctly, before they went belly-up Borders Books still had a horror section. They may be gone but they are not forgotten; at least by me. Most independent bookstores tend to have horror sections as well. Thank goodness for independent booksellers.
A while ago, I had some time to kill while my wife was shopping and I went into a Barnes and Nobel Store. They don’t carry my books in their stores but they do have some of them online in both hardcover and Nook formats. So I figured, why not patronize them and see what they have to offer. You guessed it! They too had no horror section and like Books A Million they merged their horror authors into the rest of the perhaps more socially acceptable sections. Come on; John Skipp and Craig Spector belong in the HORROR section. How can B & N have a section called “Paranormal Teen Romance” and yet not have a horror section? What the heck is paranormal teen romance anyway? If it has anything to do with stories in the “Twilight” vein (pun intended), and I would have taken the time to check it out, I think I probably would have puked in the store.
And here’s a weird thing, as I said earlier, my books are sold via online outlets in paperback, Nook and Kindle formats. For some reason those same stores that have eliminated their horror sections in their stores still allow you to search by genre, with HORROR being an option. Yeah I know, I don’t get it either.
Ok. So now that I’ve pointed this out, what do I want to do about it? There’s not a whole lot we can do about it other than make our dissatisfaction know both verbally and fiscally. The point is this. If your local book chain store has chosen to eliminate their horror section do what I did. I walked back up to the sales desk and said I wanted to register a complaint with the manager. Then I told him of my displeasure with their elimination of the horror section. Next I told them that I would be making repeated visits to the store during the next several years and as long as they didn’t have a horror section I wouldn’t purchase any books from their stores and would tell my friends to do so as well. And that is exactly what I did. Oooooh I bet that had the big boys at corporate headquarters trembling in their boots. Maybe not.
Now two years later, the situation remains unchanged. Many of these Big Box book stores still have chosen to ignore horror as a genre. Even the curse I put on the executives of several book store chains has failed to cause them to break out in oozing festering sores.
I still encourage all of my friends to shop for books at only those stores which have a horror section, or at independent local book stores. I tell them it’s ok to buy online, but only at those online outlets which are in direct competition with any big stores that refuse to have a horror section. Has it helped my cause? Probably not in the least. But it has made me feel a bit better than if I was simply sitting and stewing about it. I encourage you to do what makes you feel better about the situation as well. If you don’t care, then so be it. I can only control what I control, everything else is just life.
Thomas M. Malafarina (www.ThomasMMalafarina.com) is an author of horror fiction from Berks County, Pennsylvania. To date he has published four horror novels “Ninety-Nine Souls”, “Burn Phone”, “Eye Contact”, “Fallen Stones” and “Dead Kill Book 1: The Ridge Of Death” as well as for collections of horror short stories; “Thirteen Nasty Endings”, “Gallery Of Horror”, “Malafarina Maleficarum Vol. 1″, Malafarina Maleficarum Vol. 2”, “Ghost Shadows”, “Undead Living” and most recently “Dead Kill Book 1: The Rigde Of Death”. He has also published a book of often strange single panel cartoons called “Yes I Smelled It Too; Cartoons For The Slightly Off Center”. All of his books have been published through Sunbury Press.(www.Sunburypress.com).
In addition, many of Thomas’s works have appeared in dozens of short story anthologies and e-magazines. Some have also been produced and presented for internet podcasts as well. Thomas is best known for the twists and surprises in his stories and his descriptive often gory passages have given him the reputation of being one who paints with words. Thomas is also an artist, musician, singer and songwriter.