Real Madness: The Trip to Barnes & Noble
TODAY’S BREW: Irish Coffee & Chocolate Cherry & Dutch Chocolate because I drink so much coffee. So much.
Yesterday I kept my 6year old home from school because the calendar said no school when there actually was school. This is neither here nor there. I had planned for our special day off to go to a shopping plaza about 45 minutes away that we enjoy together. The car ride is always fun because my kids listen to good music. We go to the little toy store there, and we loved to go to Barnes & Noble. Both my kids love books, and the 6 year old reads at genius level. We’d spend two hours or more there, which is a feat with two toddlers. They loved to play with the train table in the kids section, sit with me and read a bunch of books in the reading area, and would tolerate me looking at the Sci Fi books for a while. Then we always end at the cafe for an M&M brownie and we talk like grownups. Our thing. This time, Kristen came along. Yay!
My anger upon entering this “book store” is monumental. It’s not the first time I’ve felt it, but it is the first time Kristen was there to witness it rather than just hear me rave about it for weeks. The outside promises what I want in a book store; big posters of book releases, heavy wooden doors with old fashioned brass handles, a sense of quiet in a mall setting.
What you get, however, is not that.
To my right, the cafe is huge, which I’m fine with. Coffee and books go hand in hand. It would not bother me IF THERE WERE BOOKS AROUND. One small, round table of books that I could mostly get at Walmart is directly in front of me, and to my left, rows of bargain books that nobody ever wanted, surrounded by tables of gifty things, not entirely reading related. Next to the little table of Walmart quality reading is a Nook section. Even now, in its decline, the Nook section is monstrous. Three times the size of any individual book section in the store. As we venture further in, the toy section is enormous. Absolutely enormous. There’s a Lego table that the kids get lost in. There is approximately 10 rows of toys, so many that they are labeled by age range. The very back of the store is as big as the front, and is all music.
I begin my bitchfest with Nook. Sure, you can read a book on it. Is that what’s happening in the Nook section? No. Angry Birds. Angry Birds is happening. Wreck It Ralph is playing on a monitor. Not one kid there is reading a book, and there are plenty of kids there. I allowed this for a few minutes. At one point Bennett, the 6year old, says “hey, you can read books on this!” Yes, yes you can! He tries, but Sam, the 2year old, knows what a touch screen is and is all over it, ruining the experience for Ben as it were.
My kids know books as something to fall into, something to hold and smell and love. Not something you can play Angry Birds on.
The toy section and the abysmal Lego table completely distracted Bennett from ever even looking at books, no matter how much I prompted. Sam did read a bit with me, but soon wanted his brother. Way to set an example. Again, Bennett loves to read. So this setup is actually detracting from his willingness to do so. It turns the area into a babysitting zone. Note: I cannot leave Walmart or Target with these kids without first sitting on the floor and reading them books in the book sections at their request. In an actual book store they couldn’t care less. Fail, Barnes & Noble, hideous, murderous fail.
Then, when I finally make it to the Sci Fi section, a strong half hour in to this trip, I can literally stand in one spot and see the entirety of it. I can read every title if I spin in a circle and crouch down occasionally. I talk to myself about how horrible this is, making a fool of myself, I’m sure.
Now, as a book lover, I can always find something to read. But this is the second time I went to the store with a list, and could not find one title on it. Not one. At Borders, you could order whatever rare missing title couldn’t be found. You could even order used copies of titles they carried to make out a little cheaper, and this was for all to see, not a service that had to be hunted down. The monitors were right there to use. That feeling of digging out a treasure extended to it.
Standing in the Sci Fi section, I felt like a rock star being able to point out the authors to Bennett that I talk to on a daily basis, commenting on whose book was due out next, and how I’m working at keeping company with them. These lesser known brilliant writers should be showcased on that damn Walmart table as you walk in. The “look what we found” writers that a frigging book store should be promoting. Instead we give more attention to the authors you can find at Target to make a buck.
HINT: PEOPLE KNOW THESE AUTHORS, YOU GODDAMN BIMBOS! IF THEY WANT IT THEY WILL FIND IT!
How about a “Hey, If You Like This Piece of Sell-out Crap, You Surely Will Like This Fresher Piece of Lesser Known Brilliance” section? How about we promote, as book peddlers, inspiration and love of the damn written word? How about we help keep the business of books in business by showing how critical it is rather than hiding it behind a bunch of toys? What the hell is this doing for literacy?
Children who grow up with books in the home even if they aren’t ever read, are proven to be more intelligent. Children who see parents reading and writing are far more likely to read and write themselves, and you don’t need me to tell you that. If a kid can’t see the difference between me reading a book or reading my email off of a screen, who the hell does that benefit?
Sorry. I could do this for another 1000 words but I won’t. Not today. This madness has gone on long enough. But please, tell me what you love, abhor or want to burn at your local Barnes & Noble/ other very important book store.