I've been pondering bookstores lately. They're some of my favorite places on earth. Ever since I first saw Disney's Beauty and the Beast, I've been dreaming of owning a house with a library. A huge, honkin library with so many books you need a ladder and your own card catalog, and, possibly, a map to find your way back out should you ever feel like leaving. I haven't yet achieved that dream, though once the kiddos outgrow many of their baby toys, our basement full of tall bookshelves becomes fair game...
Back to bookstores. I do a lot of my book shopping online, but there is just no substitute for browsing shelves and shelves full of books, touching them, thumbing through them, tasting the paper dust in the air. If I know what I want, Amazon is great. If I want to look for something different, I need brick and mortar (or at least steel reinforced concrete and stucco).
I've been shopping a lot at Borders, for two main reasons: 1) It's the closest larger bookstore to our house and 2) my family has discovered my love of books and sparse gift wish-lists and keep buying me Borders gift cards (an excellent choice, should any of you feel the spirit move you...). But then, when we were in Indy for the wedding a couple of weeks ago, I went into a Barnes & Noble. Not just any B&N, but the one that I used to shop at in high school.
It isn't the rose-colored reminiscing that excited me that day. I am a much more savvy bookstore shopper these days, having acquired more buying power and a taste for fancy coffee (did I mention there was a Starbucks inside? And they were passing out free samples of a raspberry creme mocha...). Boy was that shop nice. The shelves were taller, the store was bigger, and the bargain books (my favorite department for random impulse purchases) involved several whole aisles. Compared to my local Borders where the front of the store is cluttered with non-book junk (flowered pens and expensive girly totebags? Seriously? And to think they're having financial trouble...), the place was like heaven. Add a shower and I could move in. The only downside is that they charge for membership into their discount program.
I still have some money left on a giftcard, and points on my Borders rewards card. But as soon as that's gone, I think I'm switching chains. Even paying $25 a year for discounts, I think the deal is sweeter at B&N--it gets you like 40% of bestselling hardcoveres alwatys, and like 10 or 20% off all other hardcovers every day. Just with that I could probably recoup my the required investment in just a few books, and not be impatiently waiting on Borders to email me a coupon (that I have to remember to print and bring with me). Did I mention that I'm kind of stingy? (or is it frugal? I know it's wierd to be hung up on bargain hunting when buying luxuries like hardback books, but I have never pretended to make sense to anyone else...)
Now, if only B&N would be so kind as to open a location near me, maybe around Bridgeton?