Some books are such predictable citizens of the book world. They come into our bookstore and sit properly on our shelves in their attractive hardcover editions, bright and shiny and waiting patiently for purchasers. They live with us here at Portrait, are sold and re-ordered and, after a time, are replaced by their eagerly-awaited softcover editions. That is the way that most books behave. And then there is Freakonomics, a complete anomaly.
Freakonomics captured me at the first page and held tight right through to the end. This doesn’t happen for me with many non-fiction books– I think they often become redundant somewhere in the middle and I begin to lose interest. I talked to everyone who would listen about how interesting and thought-provoking Freakonomics was and I promised our non-fiction book group that the minute it was available in softcover it would be our selection for that month. The group was pumped and we began waiting for the softcover edition to appear. We waited and waited and waited. Normally it’s 6 months to a year for the paperback edition to be released. We waited three years for the softcover. I don’t ever remember a book taking that long for the transition. What was up with that? By the time the three years had gone by the non-fiction group had disbanded. Alas.
Last night I was chatting with a customer who seemed to have read every cultural non-fiction book I had ever heard of, from Outliers by Malcom Gladwell to Coercion by Douglas Rushkoff. When he mentioned Freakonomics, I of course agreed with him about its merits and we began discussing the riveting pieces and remembering our favorites. That’s when this nice customer asked me if I knew it was being made into a movie. A movie! I was stunned. How could a non-fiction book with anecdotal information be made into a film… Has this ever happened before? Once again, Freakonomics is doing things in a totally different way.