Booksellers need to be careful when they assign a book a genre – as Costco learned when it categorized the Bible as 'fiction.'
Forget about subject matter. In the controversial world of publishing and retail, even genre can stir a storm of biblical proportions.
By now, you’ve probably heard about the incident in Southern California, where a pastor tweeted a picture of a Bible for sale at a Costco labeled “fiction.”
‘Costco has Bibles for sale under the genre of FICTION,” Caleb Kaltenbach, pastor at the non-denominational Discovery Church, wrote. “Hmmm….”
Reaction was swift, strong – and mixed.
Others said they saw nothing wrong with the label and applauded Costco’s labeling.
In the end, Costco apologized and said it fixed the problem, which it said was an accident. End of story?
Not quite. The incident got us to wondering about the seemingly straightforward science of genre labeling. Sometimes there’s a very fine line that divides fact from fiction, or more specifically, memoir from fiction, or science fiction from fantasy, or historical fiction from fiction. And while that may not appear to be a significant problem at first glance, genre labeling can convey a strong message – as when the Bible, or a memoir, is labeled fiction.