Costco: The Bible is fiction, Ron Burgundy’s memoir is not

In this screen grab provided by television station KXMB in Bismarck, N.D., Will Ferrell, as his "Anchorman" character Ron Burgundy, co-anchors the evening news with Amber Schatz.
(KXMB / Associated Press)

Remember when that Simi Valley pastor caused a minor stir when he tweeted that Costco had labeled the Bible fiction? And how Fox Nation tried, but just couldn’t make the simple error into another faux cause for outrage?

Costco said its distributor made the mistake, and vowed never to mislabel the Good Book again, which pretty much put an end to the kerfuffle.

But a few days later, I got an email from Jennifer Sjoberg, who shops at the Costco in Fresno.

“Personally, I think the Bible is fiction,” Sjoberg told me. But she was incensed that the store had the nerve to apply the fiction label to Solomon Northup’s memoir “12 Years a Slave,” which she bought for her son who is studying slavery and the Civil War. That literary work, of course, is the true tale of a free black man who was sold into slavery and the inspiration for Steve McQueen’s justly lauded new film of the same name.


I happened to venture into my local Costco a few days before Thanksgiving (yes, as a matter of fact, I am a shopping masochist), and while digesting free bites of chicken sausage, ham sandwiches and chocolate-covered almonds, I decided to peruse the store’s limited literary offerings. I didn’t find any Bibles -- mislabeled or otherwise -- but I did find a certain inconsistency in how the giant retailer labels its merchandise.

Not that it really matters, but it appears Costco, or its book distributor, simply doesn’t grasp the distinction between fact and fiction.

Take “Lit,” the bestselling alcoholism memoir by the amazing (and sober) Mary Karr, whose extraordinary first memoir, “The Liars’ Club” plumbed her chaotic Texas childhood. At Costco -- and I presume this is not a value judgment -- “Lit” is labeled “fiction.” What an insult to an accomplished memoirist like Karr.

On the other hand, I can’t totally blame Costco for mislabeling “Ron Burgundy: Let Me Off at the Top: My Classy Life & Other Musings.” (Forgive me. I have no idea how to punctuate that title.)

The cover of this book sports a picture of a mega-mustachioed Will Ferrell, in character as San Diego’s fictional TV anchorman. If you aren’t a reader, don’t know anything about popular culture and perhaps haven’t been to the movies in a decade, it’s perfectly understandable that you might slap a “nonfiction” label on this faux memoir.

Perhaps Costco, or its distributor, believes that Ron Burgundy is real. In a way, I suppose he is.

Last Saturday, after all, a teensy TV station in Bismarck, N.D., allowed “Burgundy” to co-anchor its 5 o’clock news. It was an extended, and shameless, publicity stunt for the TV station and Ferrell’s latest “Anchorman” film.

The news was real. The anchorman was fake. Life was imitating art imitating life. Or something. It’s getting hard to tell your fiction from your nonfiction these days.



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Twitter: @robinabcarian