I know that we, as writers, are watching the unfolding changes that are happening in the world of books and publishing pretty closely. First the struggling indy bookstores, and then the fall of some of the bigger conglomerates. What's next!
I fervently hope that we never see the total demise of bookstores, lost to the world forever due to economy and technology. One of my very favorite things to do in the world is to visit bookstores. Any bookstore. As long as there are books, I’m there. The nearest bookstores to me are an hour away, so I really appreciate them when I can get there.
But anymore when I go, there are always changes. It started with outfacing books which showed the covers. A twofold strategy, I think. One, to fill up the empty spaces on the shelves, and two, the cover has to be a great marketing tool. I’m always drawn to covers.
On my recent visit to Barnes & Noble, there were major changes going on.
First, they were in the midst of a major rearrangement. The teenage section, which was tucked away at the back of the store, was being moved to the middle of the store, next to fantasy and science fiction. And the teenage section was suddenly HUGE! I was quite surprised. I thought that with new technology, especially with teens, that they’d be buying online ebooks. So then I wondered, who’s buying all these books, then?! And my answer was, people like me. I am an older adult (can’t bring myself to say middle-aged, but…) who reads young adult fiction. It is a huge escape from the everyday reality that we live.
My point is that the teenage section, (read: YA) was easily the biggest section in the whole store, which means a lot of people are reading this genre, and not just teens. That’s excellent news for us YA writers. Woo Hoo! At least 75% of the blogs I follow are YA writers. I think we're in the right genre at the right time.
Second, although they’ve always had a games/puzzle section, they’ve expanded on that. In addition to that, they were making a special section for kid’s games and puzzles. Also, they must now have a relationship with Lego, because they had a whole section of new Lego shelving going up.
Third, the educational section seemed to be increasing. Now there are several aisles of teaching supplies for K-8.
But what section do you think was smaller? Reference. I don’t know why, but my guess is that they are expensive, they aren’t good sellers, and you can usually find what you want online for free.
Anyway, with $50 gift card in hand, I picked out 3 books and carried them around the store for an hour. Then I put two back, ever mindful of the economy and how much I was spending. I ended up with a YA fiction novel by Kiersten White, called Paranormalcy. Kiersten is awesome! You can check out her blog at Kiersten Writes .
When I walked out of Barnes & Noble, I looked up to see Borders across the street, with a big banner that said, Final Days. I knew they were selling everything and going out of business so I decided to go over and see what they had.
When I went in, it had been pretty well picked over, but with everything 80-90% off, there were still quite a few people shopping for a bargain.
The first thing I noticed was that people were rushing around with huge stacks of books. They looked like looters during a blackout. Others, like me, quietly perused the remaining titles on the shelves, respectfully, like reading headstones in a cemetery.
It was the final four days of their existence, and somehow, what was happening just didn’t seem right.
Even so, I bought $30 worth of books for $6, put my dark glasses back on, looked over my shoulder surreptitiously and slunk to my car like a thief in the night with my loot.
It was very sad, especially with B&N across the street, busy with all their bustling, new changes. Or maybe I should say "scrambling"?