I used to be a constant visitor in a popular book store known as Barnes and Noble. Three or four times a week, I would find a reason to visit the store, get a tea, and peruse the isles of books in an ambient setting that was quiet, relaxing, and comfortable.
And then Padawan, bless his heart, gave me Rosebud, and I entered the world of Amazon.com and digital books. With books so easily available to me through the computer instantly and even directly through the wifi connection on Rosebud, I stopped going into the store to buy books. Oh, sure. Occasionally I'll peruse a Half Price Books when I'm in search of a book that's out of print, but for the most part my Barnes and Noble days were over.
I received Rosebud in September of 2010, so I haven't been in there since. But today there was a book Padawan wanted and so we stopped by the old haunt to pick it up.
The atmosphere that I had once enjoyed was gone.
Walking inside felt like I entered a Best Buy, not a book store. I was assaulted by a visual eyesore immediately: several tables upon which sat touch screen tables and Nooks. Row upon row of them. And only after walking through those could I find the books.
And we had to search for the section we needed. Politics and War Books and History had been moved.
Shoved insultingly into a corner in front of Children's Books.
Right next to six isles of.....toys.
In the middle of a book store.
There is just so much wrong with that I'm not sure where to begin.
First of all, you've got an entire section of the store closed off behind walls that you've dedicated specifically for children. If you must sell toys in a book store, then sell them where they belong: with the children's things behind the wall so I don't have to see, hear, or look at them.
Second, why the hell would you stick toys, a place crowded with children and noise and irritation, next to books that are clearly going to be read by adults who want to concentrate and hear their own thoughts. Surely sticking toys next to teen fiction would have been the wiser solution.
But my biggest point here is this....why the hell are you selling toys in a book store to begin with? The occasional character toy? Sure. Educational toys? Maybe. Put some on an end cap or a small table. But six isles of toys? Maybe in your effort to corner the market in all things retail you have forgotten the most important rule of all: books are about knowledge, first and foremost. You are selling a lifestyle: intelligence, joy in the written word, a basic understand of and dedication to the English language. When you add toys to your books, what you're telling children is that books are cool, but toys are fun too. And what kid, aside from one like me, would want to read a book when there are six isles of toys to meander? You are sending a very wrong message.
And on top of that you, like Wal-Mart, have given parents a place to dump their loud, obnoxious children while they do other things without any fear of rebuke. They can just make noise and run around willy nilly because it's a toy section with noise so obviously the sssh, you noisy bastard, you're in a fucking book store doesn't apply anymore.
I am personally offended by this latest act of corporate greed.
I will not set foot in a store that has the same feeling as a Wal-Mart. I simply will not do it. From now on, when I want a book, I'm going to order it from Amazon.com or Half Price without even checking to see if Barnes and Noble has it, because a book store should sell books, not Legos Star Wars.