Thanks but no thanks, Barnes & Noble

Weeks and weeks and weeks ago, when I saw that Michael Ondaatje would be doing a reading at the Union Square Barnes & Noble tonight as part of the book tour for his delightful latest novel (The Cat’s Table), I noted it on my calendar with an idea to go and see him, as I am wont to do.

I’ve loved his writing and storytelling ever since stumbling across a remaindered copy of The English Patient at a bookshop in Camden town eons ago, which I eventually got signed at a post-Oscar celebratory evening at NYC’s Town Hall which featured him, along with the late, wonderful screenwriter-director Anthony Minghella (who brought the book to life on screen) and composer Gabriel Yared (who scored the film), reading and discussing the book, the screenplay and the making of the epic movie.

As it turns out, I’m going to see Alan Rickman tonight on Broadway in the play Seminar, but since the curtain doesn’t rise ’til 8pm, I had still thought to go for the author’s reading and the first few questions and answers, then nip out at 7:30 to hop on the subway uptown.

But then I saw this on the description of tonight’s Michael Ondaatje reading:

Special Instructions
Event space opens at 5:00 pm. Please do not arrive for this event prior to 5:00 pm. Priority seating available with purchase of The Cat’s Table. Standby customers who do not wish to purchase the book will be seated at management’s discretion as space allows.

Well, excuse me!  While I am already reading (and relishing!) a copy of The Cat’s Table that I got from the UK, it’s extremely rare that I walk into any Barnes & Noble and don’t come out with something (or, more often, some things).  But if B&N is gonna take that kind of American-airline-nickel-and-diming-you-to-death attitude, then I shall pass on this opportunity to enjoy some 30 or so minutes with Mr. Ondaatje and go straight to the theater instead.  Harumph!

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