Dear Barnes and Noble –
After numerous years as a loyal customer I am considering abandoning you altogether. Savannah has a couple of bookstores that I try to frequent as often as possible; however there are times when their inventory does not have a title I am looking for, or they have closed by the time I get out from work. In those cases, I have normally found helpful staff, a friendly atmosphere and a good selection of books at the local Barnes and Noble.
On my visit on Monday evening, none of these things were true.
Not only had the layout been changed, it had been altered to accommodate GAMES and TOYS. Numerous shelves had been removed to make way for displays of stuffed animals and board games. You are a bookstore, not a toy store. A few mental diversions and gift items are fine, but not at the expense of your main product.
Taken aback but not yet discouraged I began to browse the Fiction and Literature section as I often do. And generally, while browsing, I am put in mind of a book I meant to look for. Sometimes these are a little bit obscure, but not always. This night, NOT A SINGLE BOOK I searched for was available. Here is the list:
Uncle Silas by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (or anything by Le Fanu)
Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon (or anything by her)
The Observations by Jane Harris
ANYTHING by James M Cain
ANYTHING by Patricia Highsmith
Mad Mary Lamb: Lunacy and Murder in Literary London by Susan Tyler Hitchcock
ANYTHING by Boris Akunin
Tourquai: A Novel by Tim Davys
ANYTHING by Geoff Ryman
I think you can agree that not all of these titles are unusual. Really, no James M Cain? None? Or Highsmith? Seriously?
Additionally, I can generally enjoy or tune-out the music being played throughout the store. The selection this night gave me a headache. Some sort of angsty, distopia, atonal noise was blaring from every corner. In no row could I concentrate on the books before me. I know a bookstore is not a library — nor should it be — but neither is it an underground club that simultaneously engulfs its visitors in hipster “music” and hocks reading tablet devices.
If Barnes & Noble (on a corporate level) wishes to survive in the electronic world, it needs to offer something that is becoming a commodity — the pure, simple pleasure of discovering writers in a comfortable setting.
Meaghan Walsh Gerard
The B&N in question is located at:
7804 Abercorn Ext. 72
Savannah, GA 31406
I visited on Monday evening, February 20th, 2012.