Where’s The Beef?

It’s Thursday and it’s Edith, and that’s right.

Susan/Sarah was here on Sunday, doing a loverly interview with me, and so here I am for her today!

Just a musing here, friends.

Yesterday I went to a huge chain bookstore I don’t usually frequent.
It was all togged out for the Holidays.
I used to find all kinds of books there….

Not this time.

See, more than half the store was given over to oddments and thingamabobs: Christmas cards and birthday cards and I miss you so dreadfully and please get well cards. Magazines, and wrapping paper and ribbons. And candy! Chocolates and lollipops in gaily wrapped packages.
There was a coffe shop there too.
And a display of ointments and salves from a prestigious beekeeper.
And music CD’s, Tapes, and Videos and recorded books, movies and classic TV shows and suchlike, etc. There were also games galore: computer, video, puzzles and plain old board games too.
There were calendars: wall sized, half a wall sized, desktop, mini, memo, page a day and appointment books. And there was a separate free standing shelf with little desktop purple, black and white artificial Christmas trees and little feather boas for the white plastic reindeer they had, bows, and ornaments for the tree too. And Oh so many more Things I can’t remember them all!!!

oh.
And yes. Some books.

But not many, and mostly “Gift” books. (big color picture books.)

It reminded me of the old “candy stores” I went to as a child. They sold cigarettes, cigars, candy bars and newspapers and magazines.
Only, the candy stores sometimes had more books.

I bought some great calendars, though.
While gently weeping, mind. Because I have two books out now, and I like to visit them, which is why I went there in the first place, but no one at that chain store cared much about displaying them.

What is to become of the real bookstore?
Did the chains push out the mom and pop stores and then change their minds about what they would sell – like the huge chain hardware stores did after they forced all the mom and pop local stores to close? Do you find this trend in your hometown?

27 thoughts on “Where’s The Beef?”

  1. I was commenting on this same thing when I attended a signing in what used to be one of my most favoritest (I’m sure that’s a word, right?) independent bookstore a month or two ago. We don’t live there any longer, so I haven’t been around to witness it’s sad state of conversion from palace of books to mall of everything.
    Methinks the turnover of books has dropped so drastically, they had to find items that would actually sell. Scary.

    Reply
  2. I was commenting on this same thing when I attended a signing in what used to be one of my most favoritest (I’m sure that’s a word, right?) independent bookstore a month or two ago. We don’t live there any longer, so I haven’t been around to witness it’s sad state of conversion from palace of books to mall of everything.
    Methinks the turnover of books has dropped so drastically, they had to find items that would actually sell. Scary.

    Reply
  3. I was commenting on this same thing when I attended a signing in what used to be one of my most favoritest (I’m sure that’s a word, right?) independent bookstore a month or two ago. We don’t live there any longer, so I haven’t been around to witness it’s sad state of conversion from palace of books to mall of everything.
    Methinks the turnover of books has dropped so drastically, they had to find items that would actually sell. Scary.

    Reply
  4. I haven’t noticed any change in the bookstores I frequent–a small mall B. Dalton that’s jam-packed with books and seems romance-friendly and three B&N’s that have a big selection across all genres AFAICT. It’s true that we have a bookish reputation here in Seattle, but over Thanksgiving I was at a B&N in Birmingham, AL whose selection seemed comparable to the Seattle B&N stores.

    Reply
  5. I haven’t noticed any change in the bookstores I frequent–a small mall B. Dalton that’s jam-packed with books and seems romance-friendly and three B&N’s that have a big selection across all genres AFAICT. It’s true that we have a bookish reputation here in Seattle, but over Thanksgiving I was at a B&N in Birmingham, AL whose selection seemed comparable to the Seattle B&N stores.

    Reply
  6. I haven’t noticed any change in the bookstores I frequent–a small mall B. Dalton that’s jam-packed with books and seems romance-friendly and three B&N’s that have a big selection across all genres AFAICT. It’s true that we have a bookish reputation here in Seattle, but over Thanksgiving I was at a B&N in Birmingham, AL whose selection seemed comparable to the Seattle B&N stores.

    Reply
  7. I think part of the change is just that bookstores are now the size of football fields instead of volleyball fields. I’d say many have the same *number* of books as before, just a much lower *percentage* of books as overall merchandise. At least, that’s what it seems to me.
    My number one bricks and mortar bookstore in B’ham is the B&N at The Summit (is that where you went, Susan?). It has the front and back of one row of display shelves filled with romances, and it often pulls new releases to displays in the front of the store. I confess to (ahem) adjusting displays so my favorite authors are more prominent :). If there’s a negative, it’s that the romances are in the back of the store, but they’re next to mysteries and sci fi so I think that’s a function of knowing the fans are going to go there regardless of where they’re placed. The Books A Million stores have more space devoted to romances, and closer to the front of the store. But I’m boycotting BAMM 🙂 despite the fact that their corporate headquarters are in B’ham.
    My biggest complaints about bookstores are that they have skimpy backlists except for Nora Roberts (whom I do like) – for her, they have two editions of everything she’s ever written; they don’t have some new authors I’d like to try; and (non-romance-related) they generally have pathetic selections of quilt books.
    But then that’s what Amazon.com is for! That place gets more of my money than Uncle Sam. Well, almost. And I’ll put in a plug for Joseph-Beth Booksellers, an awesome independent bookseller in Lexington, KY, and for Strand, every bibliophile’s dream on Broadway in Manhattan – 18 miles of books! Nearly orgasmic.

    Reply
  8. I think part of the change is just that bookstores are now the size of football fields instead of volleyball fields. I’d say many have the same *number* of books as before, just a much lower *percentage* of books as overall merchandise. At least, that’s what it seems to me.
    My number one bricks and mortar bookstore in B’ham is the B&N at The Summit (is that where you went, Susan?). It has the front and back of one row of display shelves filled with romances, and it often pulls new releases to displays in the front of the store. I confess to (ahem) adjusting displays so my favorite authors are more prominent :). If there’s a negative, it’s that the romances are in the back of the store, but they’re next to mysteries and sci fi so I think that’s a function of knowing the fans are going to go there regardless of where they’re placed. The Books A Million stores have more space devoted to romances, and closer to the front of the store. But I’m boycotting BAMM 🙂 despite the fact that their corporate headquarters are in B’ham.
    My biggest complaints about bookstores are that they have skimpy backlists except for Nora Roberts (whom I do like) – for her, they have two editions of everything she’s ever written; they don’t have some new authors I’d like to try; and (non-romance-related) they generally have pathetic selections of quilt books.
    But then that’s what Amazon.com is for! That place gets more of my money than Uncle Sam. Well, almost. And I’ll put in a plug for Joseph-Beth Booksellers, an awesome independent bookseller in Lexington, KY, and for Strand, every bibliophile’s dream on Broadway in Manhattan – 18 miles of books! Nearly orgasmic.

    Reply
  9. I think part of the change is just that bookstores are now the size of football fields instead of volleyball fields. I’d say many have the same *number* of books as before, just a much lower *percentage* of books as overall merchandise. At least, that’s what it seems to me.
    My number one bricks and mortar bookstore in B’ham is the B&N at The Summit (is that where you went, Susan?). It has the front and back of one row of display shelves filled with romances, and it often pulls new releases to displays in the front of the store. I confess to (ahem) adjusting displays so my favorite authors are more prominent :). If there’s a negative, it’s that the romances are in the back of the store, but they’re next to mysteries and sci fi so I think that’s a function of knowing the fans are going to go there regardless of where they’re placed. The Books A Million stores have more space devoted to romances, and closer to the front of the store. But I’m boycotting BAMM 🙂 despite the fact that their corporate headquarters are in B’ham.
    My biggest complaints about bookstores are that they have skimpy backlists except for Nora Roberts (whom I do like) – for her, they have two editions of everything she’s ever written; they don’t have some new authors I’d like to try; and (non-romance-related) they generally have pathetic selections of quilt books.
    But then that’s what Amazon.com is for! That place gets more of my money than Uncle Sam. Well, almost. And I’ll put in a plug for Joseph-Beth Booksellers, an awesome independent bookseller in Lexington, KY, and for Strand, every bibliophile’s dream on Broadway in Manhattan – 18 miles of books! Nearly orgasmic.

    Reply
  10. “My number one bricks and mortar bookstore in B’ham is the B&N at The Summit (is that where you went, Susan?).”
    Yep, that’s the one. I always bemoan the sprawl on US 280 compared to what it looked like when I was growing up, but I would’ve loved having such a huge bookstore close at hand back then. (I’m originally from a rural corner of Shelby County sorta between Wilsonville and Chelsea, and I graduated high school in 1989.)
    “But then that’s what Amazon.com is for! That place gets more of my money than Uncle Sam.”
    I buy most of my books from Amazon, too. I love online shopping because I have such a busy life, and I’d rather browse Amazon from my living room than fight traffic at the mall.

    Reply
  11. “My number one bricks and mortar bookstore in B’ham is the B&N at The Summit (is that where you went, Susan?).”
    Yep, that’s the one. I always bemoan the sprawl on US 280 compared to what it looked like when I was growing up, but I would’ve loved having such a huge bookstore close at hand back then. (I’m originally from a rural corner of Shelby County sorta between Wilsonville and Chelsea, and I graduated high school in 1989.)
    “But then that’s what Amazon.com is for! That place gets more of my money than Uncle Sam.”
    I buy most of my books from Amazon, too. I love online shopping because I have such a busy life, and I’d rather browse Amazon from my living room than fight traffic at the mall.

    Reply
  12. “My number one bricks and mortar bookstore in B’ham is the B&N at The Summit (is that where you went, Susan?).”
    Yep, that’s the one. I always bemoan the sprawl on US 280 compared to what it looked like when I was growing up, but I would’ve loved having such a huge bookstore close at hand back then. (I’m originally from a rural corner of Shelby County sorta between Wilsonville and Chelsea, and I graduated high school in 1989.)
    “But then that’s what Amazon.com is for! That place gets more of my money than Uncle Sam.”
    I buy most of my books from Amazon, too. I love online shopping because I have such a busy life, and I’d rather browse Amazon from my living room than fight traffic at the mall.

    Reply
  13. Cool, Susan! I live in Shelby County, off 47 around Columbiana. I have family living in Wilsonville. Small world :).
    And ditto on Amazon. It just makes life easier, and it’s cheaper too if you get free shipping (or go Amazon Prime, as I finally did). It’s 40+ miles to B&N round trip.
    Although I’ll probably stop there on the way home tonight – I work in B’ham – to get the latest Wenchly and Squawker titles. Yay, books!

    Reply
  14. Cool, Susan! I live in Shelby County, off 47 around Columbiana. I have family living in Wilsonville. Small world :).
    And ditto on Amazon. It just makes life easier, and it’s cheaper too if you get free shipping (or go Amazon Prime, as I finally did). It’s 40+ miles to B&N round trip.
    Although I’ll probably stop there on the way home tonight – I work in B’ham – to get the latest Wenchly and Squawker titles. Yay, books!

    Reply
  15. Cool, Susan! I live in Shelby County, off 47 around Columbiana. I have family living in Wilsonville. Small world :).
    And ditto on Amazon. It just makes life easier, and it’s cheaper too if you get free shipping (or go Amazon Prime, as I finally did). It’s 40+ miles to B&N round trip.
    Although I’ll probably stop there on the way home tonight – I work in B’ham – to get the latest Wenchly and Squawker titles. Yay, books!

    Reply
  16. Mayhap the concept of the bookstore is changing into an “entertainment” store. The most vibrant of bookstores in our area has a food court and a stage. I’m going to a jazz concert there on Friday night–will pick up a few books, too.
    Jacquie

    Reply
  17. Mayhap the concept of the bookstore is changing into an “entertainment” store. The most vibrant of bookstores in our area has a food court and a stage. I’m going to a jazz concert there on Friday night–will pick up a few books, too.
    Jacquie

    Reply
  18. Mayhap the concept of the bookstore is changing into an “entertainment” store. The most vibrant of bookstores in our area has a food court and a stage. I’m going to a jazz concert there on Friday night–will pick up a few books, too.
    Jacquie

    Reply
  19. From Sherrie:
    Jacquie said: “Mayhap the concept of the bookstore is changing into an “entertainment” store.”
    Jacquie, the more I think about it, the more I believe you may be right. We live in a society where it seems everything must be more, bigger, better, louder, and brighter. I suppose in order to stay alive, the larger bookstores are just going with the flow, doing what affects their bottom line.
    But I dearly lament the loss of the small corner bookstore that just sold books. I used to frequent those bookstores. I never ever go to the big chain bookstores because they remind me too much of mall shopping, and since I’m allergic to shopping, I don’t go. And besides, those chain stores are for extroverts. Like many writers, I’m an introvert, so all that hooplah doesn’t appeal to me.
    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the big chains turning into entertainment centers . It’s just not for everybody. I felt like Edith the first time I walked into a Borders. I looked around and went, “Where are the books?”

    Reply
  20. From Sherrie:
    Jacquie said: “Mayhap the concept of the bookstore is changing into an “entertainment” store.”
    Jacquie, the more I think about it, the more I believe you may be right. We live in a society where it seems everything must be more, bigger, better, louder, and brighter. I suppose in order to stay alive, the larger bookstores are just going with the flow, doing what affects their bottom line.
    But I dearly lament the loss of the small corner bookstore that just sold books. I used to frequent those bookstores. I never ever go to the big chain bookstores because they remind me too much of mall shopping, and since I’m allergic to shopping, I don’t go. And besides, those chain stores are for extroverts. Like many writers, I’m an introvert, so all that hooplah doesn’t appeal to me.
    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the big chains turning into entertainment centers . It’s just not for everybody. I felt like Edith the first time I walked into a Borders. I looked around and went, “Where are the books?”

    Reply
  21. From Sherrie:
    Jacquie said: “Mayhap the concept of the bookstore is changing into an “entertainment” store.”
    Jacquie, the more I think about it, the more I believe you may be right. We live in a society where it seems everything must be more, bigger, better, louder, and brighter. I suppose in order to stay alive, the larger bookstores are just going with the flow, doing what affects their bottom line.
    But I dearly lament the loss of the small corner bookstore that just sold books. I used to frequent those bookstores. I never ever go to the big chain bookstores because they remind me too much of mall shopping, and since I’m allergic to shopping, I don’t go. And besides, those chain stores are for extroverts. Like many writers, I’m an introvert, so all that hooplah doesn’t appeal to me.
    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the big chains turning into entertainment centers . It’s just not for everybody. I felt like Edith the first time I walked into a Borders. I looked around and went, “Where are the books?”

    Reply
  22. The big chain here in Canada went that way too, so now I buy mostly from indies. Yes, they still have some extras, but they concentrate on books. And service.

    Reply
  23. The big chain here in Canada went that way too, so now I buy mostly from indies. Yes, they still have some extras, but they concentrate on books. And service.

    Reply
  24. The big chain here in Canada went that way too, so now I buy mostly from indies. Yes, they still have some extras, but they concentrate on books. And service.

    Reply

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