Hey, look at that—I’m actually writing this post the day before it’s due to go live on the blog! That...somehow doesn’t seem right. It’ll be fun to see what ends up getting in the way of the post this week, but until that happens, let’s keep a good thing rolling and dive right in.
And instead of going right to today’s new comics—though there are a number of very good ones this week—I want to take a moment to write about bookstores. (I know, I know. You’re asking, what’s a bookstore?) And, by “a moment” I probably mean “a lot more than a moment” as my ire was raised this past Sunday and I’d like to talk about it here.
Okay, so. Back to the question above—what’s a bookstore?
Apparently, the answer to that is: A place with very few books, all arranged haphazardly, and with very little in-store promotion, and with a bathroom that’s downright disgraceful.
Now, since the bookstore I’m talking about specifically here is a Barnes & Noble, and there are hardworking employees at this Barnes & Noble dealing with inane corporate policies that have led to such a sad state of affairs, I will not mention where this particular store is.
You know, because of the awe-inspiring power of this blog.
I even hesitate to bring it up at all, since I hate bashing one of the few remaining stores in my remote area, but my visit Sunday was so depressing that I feel it’s important to bring up as part of a larger problem.
For a mainstream store, I’ve always felt that Barnes & Noble does a pretty good job of carrying some lesser-known authors. That, apparently, is no longer the case. And, sure, I realize that this particular store was not one of their superstores, so the selection is, understandably, less than one of the larger stores.
Even so, there needs to be a better balance of big, honking mainstream titles and smaller ones. People don’t go to the bookstore anymore in hopes of scoring the latest big release—they simply pre-order at Amazon and get the thing at a ridiculous discount.
Barnes & Noble—and Borders before them—has no hope to ever compete with Amazon’s pricing.
And while they can’t compete with Amazon’s selection either, what the brick and mortars need to do is start carrying some lesser know, genre books. I don’t say this simply because I’m a dork and I want more books that I like in the store; I say this because the type of person wandering around a Barnes & Noble on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon is likely to be very similar to me and will likely spend just more time in the graphic novel and science fiction/fantasy section than he will in the new release section.
I know what the new releases are. People like me know what the new releases are. If I’m in the store looking for them, I’ll have picked them up first before wandering around aimlessly through the genre sections.
While I might buy a new release, it’s in that genre section that I’ll do the most damage, as wandering around the stacks makes me want to buy books. And if there’s one or two or three books I’ve not before heard of that look interesting to me just sitting there, chances are I’ll buy them all.
That, of course, would be the ideal bookstore experience.
What more usually happens, however, is that I come to—duh—buy a book. After an hour-plus of looking and coming up with nada, I get annoyed and try to find anything to pick up—even a magazine that I’ll likely just flip through once when I get home then recycle.
Going into a bookstore with the intent of buying multiple items and walking out both frustrated and empty-handed is a problem.
Going into a bookstore with the intent of buying multiple items and walking out both frustrated and empty-handed and having had to use a dirty restroom somewhere in the middle of searching for books I’d never find is even more of a problem.
Coming from publishing, this type of stuff just really annoys me. It's hard enough to sell books in this market. Barnes & Noble needs to do better, plain and simple.
Oh, and also? Go read the new Batman issue today. It’s good. I promise.