Saturday, March 12, 2011

An Evening at Barnes and Noble

So I put in a lot of hours at work this week, about 50 through Friday, and I'll work at least seven today and maybe five tomorrow. The work load demands it, the wife is out of town, and I'm able to do my writing for a couple of hours in the evenings, so why not try to get ahead of the workload curve? I'm not getting much recreation, and little exercise (though I walked at noon yesterday, ten minutes in 20-30 mph winds). Still, I've been eating well, my weight is falling, and I have little or no desire for snacking. Maybe giving up chips and soda for Lent is a good thing.

I decided to treat myself last night and after leaving the office at 6:00 PM I drove 2.2 miles out of my way, a true expense with gasoline at $3.459, to go to Barnes and Noble. I usually do this at least once each time Lynda is out of town, though didn't the last two times she deserted me for the grandkid(s). I browse through the remainders tables, and sometimes find a bargain. I look through many of the aisles, looking at lots of books, and every third trip in have to buy one. I daydream that mine will be there someday, though I know the odds against that are astronomical. Eventually I grab a magazine or three from the rack, buy a vente house blend, and sit in the coffee shop and read. Normally I can't do that for very long, for Sidelines Syndrome takes over and I feel I should be writing. So I leave halfway through the vente and head home and thence to The Dungeon to write.

But last night I was in the store almost two and a half hours and suffered not at all from Sidelines Syndrome. I didn't buy any books tonight, though I found three that were tempting. The first was The Kennedy Detail, written by Gerald Blaine, one of the Secret Service agents assigned to JFK. Focusing much on Dallas, he speaks of how the agents felt in losing the man they were sworn to protect. I read in this for over an hour. Someday I'll buy it, but not for $28.00. The second one was Founding America. This caught my eye because it is mainly a compilation of original documents from 1774 to 1791, with a few editor's notes. The idea is sort of what my Documenting America is. We have no reason to be ignoring source documents in favor of historians' sifting through them and in the process giving opinions. Read the documents; they aren't difficult to understand. I didn't buy Founding America, though I was sorely tempted, and the price was better at $12.95 (I think it was).

It seems to me much has changed in Barnes and Noble. I find fewer shelves of books and more display tables. These tables hold fewer books than the shelves they replaced did, and some have games, puzzles, or other non-book items. At the front, where latest releases were once displayed, is a Nook display. In some places in the store a major amount of shelves have been removed in favor of even larger display tables.

The teen book section seemed to be larger than before, the poetry section smaller that the even minuscule size it have been previously, if that's possible. Reference books seemed to occupy fewer shelf-feet. Cookbooks even seemed to be reduced, as maybe were travel books.

These latter things people now get on line. Google for a reference. Google a recipe, Google a destination. Or Bing them. As a result B&N doesn't need to stock as many books because they don't sell. What will happen when Nook and Kindle take over the world? The brick and mortar stores are shrinking, and will soon be shrivelled. Such are the observations of an occasional B&N patron. And, as always, I set off the alarm as I left, even though I bought nothing and carried nothing out of the store I didn't bring in except the vente. I warned the cashier that I always set it off, so was not arrested for shoplifting.

Oh, the third book that caught my eye? It was in the remainders section, on a lower shelf, a neat stack of perhaps twelve copies. When I saw it, I almost whipped out my cell phone and called good friend Gary in Rhode Island. The book was The Screaming Skull, & other Classic Horror Stories. The Screaming Skull? Who knew a college freshman prank, quite minor at that, in which no animals were hurt, no feelings were hurt, no one was bullied, no hate speech was uttered (except maybe by the subject of the prank) would find its way onto a remainders bookshelf in B&N in Rogers Arkansas in 2011? Maybe I should have invested the $7.95 plus tax just to say I had it. Gary, check it out at a B&N where you're at.

1 comment:

Gary said...

Last time I was in B&N I too noticed it was less a bookstore and more a flea market. Did not see any Screaming Skulls, but will keep a sharp lookout next time.