After being chewed, and rightly so, by a person whom I respect quite a lot, I feel that I need to set the record straight vis-à-vis my last post.
No, I don’t HATE Barnes & Noble, and not everyone who works for them are illiterate drones. I love Brick and Mortar book stores, and really do hope that they are able to survive the digital revolution… but…
I don’t think that the future is bright, and that makes me sad.
Now, that being said, let me explain just a little bit.
I am one of those people who would love to spend an entire day in a bookstore. I’m one of those annoying people who sit on the floor, in among the stacks, blocking the aisles to other shoppers while lovingly thumbing through book after book. It’s like a little vacation to me. And like vacations, I rarely have time for that sort of thing, and so when I go to a bookstore I’m on a mission for one or two particular titles.
I’m a list maker. Just ask my wife. My pockets are always full of book lists. Titles I’ve heard about on “All Things Considered” or read about in the Arts Section, or found out about on one of the many book related blogs I follow. Sometimes these lists make it on to my “to Read” list on Goodreads, but most of the time they end up in the top drawer of my night stand, or (horror of horrors) get put through the wash still in my pants pocket and are thus rubbed out forever. And so, generally, when I go to a bookstore I’m almost always armed with one of my many lists. Yesterday was one of those days. I went into the Sandy B&N with a list of 3 books. And they weren’t obscure or out of print books. Two of them I had heard about on “All Things Considered” on Monday. The third was one by Dashell Hammett (I’ve been going through a Pulp Fiction phase… I don’t know why.) While I am always on the lookout for a Chapman translation of Homer… I’m pretty sure that I’ll never find it at B&N, but these books were not in that category. And then to find out that two of them are never stocked… well, lets just chalk it up to having a bad week… and so my cork popped and I wrote a post critical of everything B&N and brick & mortar bookstores in general.
But while I’m on the subject… the vampire comment… ya gotta know that’s totally true. What was the first table I passed when I walked into B&N yesterday? Can ya guess? A table full of “Twilight” clones. Then there was a display of a book titled: “Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter.” My brain almost began shooting out great gouts of blood at that point. And then to top it off, I passed one other table full of “Twilight” clones when I neared the Fiction & Literature section. Not that they were the same clones I had passed at the door, they were a table of completely new clones. I went back and forth several times just to make sure. And so, my statement still stands, if you want to read about teen angst vampires… B&N is your place, and at least the management of the Sandy B&N are proud of that fact.
Now, granted… that’s what’s selling, and they have to stock what’s selling, but… come on!
Now that being said…
I think I’m starting to channel Tevia from “Fiddler on the Roof”
“On the other hand…”
Now that being said, I’m not implying that B&N has no intelligent literature on their shelves. I’m a big fan of their classics collection. They’re an inexpensive way to get some of the greats in literature. The B&N collection is way cheeper than the Modern Library, or Vintage editions of the same book.
My big complaint… and it is purely MY complaint is that nine times out of ten, I walk into B&N and I walk out with either no book, because they didn’t have any of the books on my list that day, or I walk out with some other book that wasn’t on my list that may or may not have been close to what I wanted. It is truly a rare and happy occasion that I am able to walk in, pick up the book that I am looking for, pay for it, and walk out again. And if I want one of the more obscure books on one of my many lists, I have to go to one of the smaller, local bookstores like “The Kings English” or “Sam Weller’s.” While they are far smaller than B&N, my chances of finding those kinds of books are better. And if they don’t have it, the people working there have almost always heard of the book, if not read it.
So yes, I’m critical of B&N, but that doesn’t stop me from walking in there a few times per month.