So, I went to Barnes and Noble this week. Twice.
I was lonely.
friend had given David a gift card. I kept getting their constant,
invasive e-mails that told me nothing of interest: buy a Nook, buy a
Nook, and get a coupon for your Nook. I don't own a Nook, so seldom were
there useful coupons for me.
But I needed a bookstore, a bona fide
bookstore. I had trolled the thrift stores, come home with piles of
books (some I might even read). I was full — but not content.
like seeing what's new, what is coming up. I like to touch hardbacks,
flip through softcovers, peer at the cover, look at the typeface. I like
to be surprised: I want to exclaim: a new Vincenzi already? So that's what Mark Haddon's cover really looks like! I
want to find a deal, whip out my coupon for the one I want, buy an
extra paperback to leave in the car. I want to participate.
is cool: great service, fantastic selection, incredible prices. I have
gotten rather spoiled by Amazon: no matter what I order, it shows up
nearly instantly, exactly what I ordered, well-packaged and well-priced.
I'm not adverse to paying good money for a book. I just don't want to
get soaked every time I want to read.
I also don't want to be bombarded with what the bookstore values when it doesn't match my values. And I don't value the Nook.
I love my e-reader. My Kindle (another name for a group of kittens: squee!)
gives me Internet service when I want it and a book in my pocket
whenever I desperately need fiction. But I also have a library of nine
floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, nearly full. I have autographed copies of Good Omens, The Eyre Affair and His Excellency, George Washington (to name a few). And that's where B&N loses me.
want my bookstore to show me books, not make the Nook the first,
biggest thing I have to squeeze past to get to the books. (I do love the
keyring hole in it, though — not that I'd use it, but it is a neat
design element, for some reason.) I want the book to be celebrated, not
the identity of the store. I don't care if it's called Ham Sandwich: if
the store gives me what I want, I will remember what/where/who it is and
recommend it at every turn. I am loyal. (Ask Borders.)
there's the coupon structure. So, I bought a book for "30 percent off
(members get 40 percent off)." I had a coupon for an additional 20
percent off a single item. I bought two books. Here's how the coupon was
applied: 30 percent off the original price of the sale book, an
additional 10 percent off the now-discounted amount of the sale book,
then another 20 percent off that discounted price — of the sale
book. And here I thought I was buying one book at 40 percent off and the
other at 20 percent off. It was a difference of only a couple of bucks,
but I felt just a little cheated.
David is a media guy
who shops for music and movies. When he saw a Blu-Ray movie for $40,
just a single Blu-Ray disc, his head nearly exploded and he refused to
purchase it unless I insisted. (I didn't insist.)
all for supporting the merchant who brings you what you want. I have
purchased books at absurd (to me) prices because it's what I wanted, the
store had it and I wanted to keep them in business. Support the source,
I just don't like
the cluttered store with the e-book counter front and center, a
collection of "classics" everyone will buy because they think they
should read them, a selection of newly released and pop books people
will buy, and overpriced movies. I always walk out of there feeling like
B&N has taken advantage of me — and worse, with my permission.
I am hungry for books. There are at least three titles I want right now
(but must wait until one is actually published). I want to have a
bookstore in town on which I can rely. Do I just "let it go" and try to
not feel cheated when squeezing past the Nook counter at B&N (where
there is no Marge Piercy, ever)? Do I travel 45 minutes into another
state to an independent bookstore and pay full price, plus my time? I
don't know. But for now, I will try to just relax, enjoy my new books
and decide next week when I "simply must get that book." It's not a
perfect world, but it's the best we can do.