Sunday, June 1, 2008

harry potter, harry potter, all the time harry potter

Linda and I have been visiting bookstores -- not in Central Oregon, I must say.

I think Linda has the nicest used bookstore I've seen.  Bar none.  Nice presentation, nice clean organization, and after 5 years, a really nice selection of books.  None of the used bookstores we visit seem to make any effort to clean or straighten up their books.  And it is so easy to do.  Just take a couple loops around the store and straighten.  Really easy.

But no one seems to do it.

And almost all of them have such huge design flaws, especially the old 'paperback trade' type stores, who are adding hardcovers and non-fiction finally, but in such a haphazard way that it probably doesn't work.  (Such no doubt confirming the owners suspicions that hardcovers don't sell, or something.)  One of the stores we visited, I had to make two circuits of the store to find the 'new fiction' shelf; the Oprah kinds of books, best-selling literary works.  And we sell tons of those books -- it's the first thing you see when you walk in our door.

Most of these stores seem to subsist on genre; S.F., mysteries, true crime, and especially romance.  Not that there is anything wrong with these genres, but that they have closed the doors to the possibilities of all other kinds of books.

On the new bookstore front, I had the interesting experience of looking at the 'young adult' sections.  I swear they all look like Harry Potter covers; with or without the black locks and glasses, or the flowing robes or whatever, they still have the same dynamics, color schemes, and yes a Harry Potter looking character on the cover.  And that's it.  Every damn book.  Look in vain for Black Beauty, or Anne of Seven Gables, or any other book.

Same thing with the new fiction section.  It's all so trendy.  All so Book Sense.  All the same. (Book Sense is the organized program by independent bookstores to recommend good books.)

Look, I understand carrying the 20% of bestsellers that everyone wants, but I don't think the answer it to fill the rest of the 80% of the books in the stores with lookalikes and wannabes.

I'd love to take a shot at it, but I could only do it in another life.  I'll probably double my selection of books this summer, but I think I may purposely never look at a Book Sense pamphlet.  Let my own tastes and the recommendations of my customers, be my guide.

1 comment:

tim said...

My favorites are the two Smith Family stores in Eugene and Powells (including technical) in Portland.

I have a $300+ trade balance at your wife's store because I buy books at Smith Family, Powells, and Amazon, sell them to Bookmark (when I can't get to Smith Family, which pays cash) and can hardly ever find anything I want at Bookmark.

But I'm willing to believe that I'm not the Bookmark's typical customer.

I expect my balance to grow through my lifetime into one of the largest stores of imaginary money this side of Parker Bros.