What I Saw Last Night at Barnes & Noble

The Barnes & Noble bookstores were having a 40% off Blu-ray sale (which makes their prices similar to, although not better than, Amazon’s), so after dinner last night, KC and I stopped by one of the many local outposts to see if we could find anything.

(Answer: yes. We picked up Fletch, mainly because it’s got a new retrospective on “making and remembering” the movie; Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, because while we hate Matthew McConaughey, it’s got a dynamite supporting performance by Emma Stone; and Office Space, also because of the retrospective and because I knew someone who got fired in part for showing this as a “morale builder” at work. She didn’t remember, having seen it mostly bowdlerized on Comedy Central, just how much profanity there was in it.)

While there, I noticed a few things I wanted to share through cellphone snaps.

Teen Paranormal Romance

See, I told you it was a hot trend! I couldn’t even fit the *third* rack with the same label in the picture. Wish I’d invested in black and purple dyes a few years back, since they’re all the same color.

B&N Lego Figure

(Left) Isn’t this guy adorable? I just wanted to hug this toddler-life-size Lego minifig man. Until I realized that his stand was one of many for toys and gee-gaws replacing bookshelves in the center of the main floor.

Book covers curling

(Right) Here’s a good sign your cover stock is too cheap. In severely moist weather, as we’ve been having this week, you get lots of curls.

I apologize for the picture quality of this last one, but if I’d backed up far enough to get it in focus, I would have been sitting in the middle of a table where a couple was having coffee. This was the magazine section; I can only assume that the “Literary” label was a leftover from a previous stocking layout, since I wouldn’t exactly give that title to Wolverine and Deadpool. Maybe if they cleared out some of the puzzle magazines on the middle rack, the organization would make more sense.

Literary Comics at B&N

For that matter, why are the comic books on the top shelf of three, where the kids can’t reach them?

8 Responses to “What I Saw Last Night at Barnes & Noble”

  1. Jer Says:

    For that matter, why are the comic books on the top shelf of three, where the kids can’t reach them?

    From the titles I can make out clearly, probably because they want to make sure they don’t get complaints from parents when little Johnny gets his hands on Deadpool, Wolverine, or Ultimate Captain America.

    Kind of like why Borders always used to keep High Times and Heavy Metal up on the top shelf (when there was a Borders). And it looks like there might be some Star Wars and Simpsons titles on the second shelf where kids can grab them.

  2. Aaron Says:

    I love this idea of Barnes & Noble of carrying monthly comic books. My local B&N has regular comics on the top three shelves and kids’ comics (like the Batman Adventures, etc.) on the lower three shelves.

    What bothers me is that all the comics they have are weeks OLD! They have for example still Ultimate Fallout #5 and Punisher #1 and they don’t have ANY of the new DC titles. It does not make sense to carry monthly books if you then have only oldies!

  3. Dave Carter Says:

    @Aaron: Newsstand distribution of comics has traditionally lagged a few weeks behind direct market distribution. One of the advantages that comic shops had over newsstands in the old days was in getting their comics earlier.

  4. Aaron Says:

    @Dave thanks a lot for the clarification. I was not familiar with this. I moved in the US just four years ago and I was not here at the good old times of newsstand distribution. Now it makes sense. I thought it was B&N already deciding that the experiment did not work.

  5. John Steventon Says:

    My Barnes & Noble went through a similar upgrade recently. Our Teen Paranormal section is a little larger than that, and replaced, to my horror, the increasingly shrinking Art section. I’m not even sure if they carry art books anymore.

    Our toy section now covers nearly a third of the top floor, making me wonder how much longer they’ll be calling themselves book sellers. :0p

    The times they are most certainly a changing.

  6. Torsten Adair Says:

    Union Square in NYC has TWO levels (top and middle). Marvel occupies the entire top level (with a price that’s $1 more than the DM), while DC and the rest (Bongo, Dark Horse, Image?) are on the middle tier.

    Like other magazines, the hot titles are faced out on the front row where the entire cover can be seen. Bluewater’s Conan O’Brien bio was one such title, as was the Disney*Pixar Incredibles magazine.

    Not much DC, but I expect that’s because of the New 52. I saw Flashpoint #5 and Swamp Thing #1 as the only “New 52″ titles, plus the “final” issues of earlier series, like Secret Six and Wonder Woman.

    It’s been like this since June.

    The toys and other stuff… there’s a set square footage. That footage has to be exploited. So B&N reduces stuff that’s not selling (like expensive art books) and replaces it with toys and educational material and nook. Accentuate the positive…

    Oh, and art books? I hated them when I was in charge of that department. We’d have a display copy, and some … person would want to unwrap a sealed copy just to be sure it was perfect. Plus they get damaged easily, are costly, are difficult to shelve and display…

    Oh, and if you think that’s crazy, check out the website. We’re now selling electronics and housewares and Halloween costumes and …

  7. John Steventon Says:

    I realise that not everyone is interested in art, but it’s nice to have some books available for those who are, or more importantly, might be. My whole life changed when I saw a particularly stunning cover of an art book, and a career was born. :0)

    It is a tough choice to have to choose between what’s popular and selling, and other material that may not appeal to the majority. Still, it’s sad to see an entire section give way to progress. From what I see coming, though, there may have to be genre bookstores devoted only to teen paranormal. :0p

    As for comics, I forgot to mention that my Barnes & Noble is finally selling comics again, and a very large selection, however, they overlap considerably, so that you have to flip through them as if you’re shuffling a deck of cards to see the titles! Frustrating, and not too good for the books themselves.

    I can understand your frustration with the art books… frankly, too many of them were made for coffee tables, and not actual reading, and yes, people abused the heck out of them. To my store’s credit, a large Van Gogh book was abused thoroughly, and the store manager offered to sell it to me for 40% off the cover price. I could never have afforded the full price, but that kind of discount on such a beautiful book really made my day.

    And a sale. :0)

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