Bookstore Frustration

While running errands this weekend, I stopped into my local brick and mortar large chain bookstore, feeling the urge to possibly engage in some impulse book buying.

And I left empty handed.

Why you ask?

Pretty much the same frustration I have every time I enter a brick and mortar location of a large chain bookstore these days — the lack of space actually given to books coupled with the lack of selection once you actually start browsing the shelves.   As a fan of sci-fi and fantasy, I am perpetually frustrated by the lack of any substantive selection in the “new” section.  I often feel as if a lot of what’s put in this section is classified wrong.  I get that supernatural romance novels are selling well these days, but that’s not the only thing being published in the world of science-fiction and fantasy, for heaven’s sake!  

Of course, there are also the tie-in novels, which I am not above admitting that I’ve read more than my fair share and I’ve enjoyed them.   But I’m at the point with a lot of tie-in novels that I’m so far behind in the ever-increasingly continuity driven, interconnected, you have to read six books before this one and four books before those six to understand or enjoy what’s going on, that seeing these tie-in novels only reminds me how far behind I am and how much out of control my to-be-read pile is and that adding ten plus books to enjoy one new one doesn’t seem like the most realistic goal.  (Yes, that was a run-on sentence, but I hope it conveys my frustration and my thought process.)

Please don’t get me started on the ever-growing issue of having book three of a series but not book one in stock.  Nothing frustrates the side of me that wants/needs to read a series in order to be curious about book three, but not able to find book one on the shelf.  (This extends to my local library as well, though I will admit they’re doing better about having as much of a series as they can available to either check out or put on reserve).  

While browsing, a thought struck me.  I recalled seeing that the Hugo Awards were announced last weekend and so I decided I’d look for the newest winner, Ancillary Justice.   Pulling out my smart phone and connecting to GoodReads, I found the author information and began to skim the shelves, hopeful to spend a little discretionary income on the book.   And I found no copies of the book in the store.   I even checked the store’s “find a book” kiosk to find no copies in the store.

I could understand if this were some niche book that few had heard of, but this book just won the Hugo Award for heaven’s sake!  Couldn’t we spare some space for a copy or two so that impulsive shoppers like myself could pick it up.  I will admit I hope that maybe I was just behind the curve and that the one or two copies they did have were sold out, but given my earlier frustrations with the store, I highly doubt it.

And they wonder why so many readers go to the on-line retailers to buy our books….

For the record, I managed to leave said brick and mortar chain without purchasing a single book. 

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Bookstore Frustration

  1. You’d never expect it, but my little small town B&N has a fantastic selection of scifi, fantasy, manga, etc. One of the managers there must be a speculative fiction fan, or something. They have all the media tie-in stuff, but it’s on a separate bay, and all the urban fantasy romance stuff, which is also on a different bay. We can’t walk in that place without spending $40. I go into other B&Ns in other cities and am often disappointed. I share the frustration of learning about a new series, only to find that the bookstore has only books four and five, no copies of book one.

    I suddenly understand why Amazon has so many customers!

  2. OH MY POD THE F—–G SERIES PROBLEM!!!! That kills me each and every time I go into my real-life local bookstore. For the past year, they have only had, to take just one example, Republic of Theives by Scott Lynch and none of the others. The very first time I went there I remember being impressed by their selection in the SFF section. But once I bought all the books I wanted, it turned out that they weren’t replaying them with other interesting things, and now I’m feeling pretty meh about them. To the point where I am actually thinking damn you people HIRE ME AS YOUR SFF English book buyer (I live in Germany, so this section, if it exists anywhere, is small) because you are fucking up hardcore! Sorry for all the cursing. This stuff makes me wild with fury.

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