Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Plotting... a route through the bookstore

When my husband dropped me off at Barnes & Noble last weekend, he was worried that I wouldn't be able to entertain myself for possibly two hours while he ran his errands. I laughed, asking how much time he could spend in Home Depot. To which he responded, "Four hours, easily." I nodded. "Bookstores are my Home Depot, baby," I said. 
When he returned to collect me {and the eight new books I'd bought}, he asked about the books. That day, I had a non-fiction memoir, a middle-grade boys' book, a middle-grade girls' book, an adult fantasy, a classic, something semi-religious, and something from YA. This prompted him to wonder, based on the variety of genres I hit, how I chose to venture through the store. Did I have those books in mind and walk there purposefully, or did I just happen to walk past them in that section and they caught my eye? And what about J and M? Did their patterns match mine? 

Josh's prompt prompted us Peas to take a look at ourselves and our book-shopping patterns. So here we are!

{Below: A quick, rough sketch of my Barnes & Noble route...not to say that I don't venture into other sections now and then, of course}

Sometimes I enter the store with an idea of a book I'd like to search for, but more often than not, I've come just to browse and be surprised. {This is dangerous because I tend to buy more books when I don't have any in mind}.

An important part of my pattern is the effect of time constraints. Why? Because I gravitate toward the sections I want to peruse the longest, and that determines which direction I go.

When I first enter the store, I'm staring at ebooks, which I avoid like my grandma avoids email. {Yes, I'm a sentimental sap and I love my real, tangible books}. I've recently discovered a couple small tables of new release books tucked between the games and the coffee. It has an assortment of genres, and I find it gets me in an open and adventurous mood. {In fact, since I've been doing this, I've opened myself up a lot to genres I only occasionally wandered through}.

Once I've woven through the tables, I wander past the bestsellers shelf, curious as to whether my favorites are still there and if any of my lesser-known favorites have reached the spot they deserve. Then I hit the leatherbound classics, noting which I don't have, which I want, and any new titles I need to add to my wishlist.

From there, I waste little time getting to my favorite chunk of the store: Fiction. Now, while I am always eager to see what's new in YA, I have at times spent my entire time in that section. So, I will usually start in Sci-fi and Fantasy. {Part of this is because I'm waiting for Brent Weeks' second novel in his new series, and I know from experience with Way of Shadows that I will devour these books, so I will not read the first -- which I bought the first week it came out -- until I at least own the second one!} From here, I stalk methodically down every aisle until I reach romance and mystery, which, I find, either make me laugh {some of those romance covers... *eyeroll*} or don't catch my interest. {I'm working on this. Because I enjoy a good mystery on TV or in movies, so why wouldn't I like them in books, too?} Then I resume the shelf-by-shelf perusal when I hit general fiction.

Often, by the time I hit YA, you will inevitably find me scooting down the aisle on my ass, because I want to make sure I see all the books and it's SO much easier to check the bottom shelves when you aren't bent over at the waist.

Once I get back up, I detour through the young readers' section, hoping to score another fun or entertaining story like the gems I've picked up there in the past, and hoping also that I -- a grown, childless woman giggling at the backs of the books while I read them -- am not creeping out the moms or kids in the section with me.

Depending on where I am on time, I will repeat the process through the Fiction Chunk -- just in case I missed something -- and then head to the bargains/journals/stationery, where I bide my time until I get a call that Josh is headed my way. If I drove myself, I'll wander this section for however long my arms -- usually loaded down with books by then -- can endure. Then head to the checkout.

And there you have it! My Barnes & Noble road map :)

My book shopping experience is much different from A's. For starters, I don't avoid ebooks. Since I've literally run out of room in my house for more books, I must be selective with the physical books I bring into the fold. Therefore, most of my recent fiction purchases have come from the following route: 1) Log on to Barnes & Noble website. 2) Search for specific title/author. 3) Click "download." 4) Power up the Nook Color. 5) Read.

Now, even though I'm selective with my physical book purchases, this is not to say I don't go to the bookstore. I live in Mobile, Alabama and our B&N was an unfortunate causality of "downsizing" a few years ago. Therefore, we're left with two Books-a-Million stores and Bienville Books, a quirky indie store downtown specializing in mostly secondhand and antique books. I like Bienville Books even though I tend to avoid downtown Mobile like the plague for various reasons. (Namely, I drive a large SUV and parking in downtown anywhere is not large SUV friendly.) I've scored some really great antique and reference books from Bienville so I try to stop in whenever I'm downtown.

Books-a-Million is a different story. My normal routine with BAM is to hit the Sci-fi/Fantasy section first. Since it's next to the YA section, I usually cruise those aisles second. Then I backtrack to the General Fiction section. At this point, if my husband is with me, I tend to wonder where he's wandered off and go in search of him. My husband search path takes me through the discount/bargain/clearance and magazines and often ends in the computer books. (He's a geek. *eye roll*) If he's not in the computer section, I widen my search to the cookbooks and reference sections. Eventually we meet and unless I'm still in search of a specific book, we usually head to the cafe for coffee and checkout. I tend to avoid the middle school/young readers and religion sections unless I'm after a particular title. Just not my cup of reading tea.

That's my bookstore trips in a nutshell. Of course if I'm with my fellow Peas, these routes are subject to change...and much lingering and discussion in the aisles.

My book shopping experience is pretty indulgent. I primarily shop at my local B&N but sometimes venture toward the beach to the regional BaM. I'm even known to make a day trip to a neighboring cities to their Indie stores, often times on a whim. And everywhere I travel -- if there's a bookstore, I'm in it. I also shop online -- a lot. More than I care to admit. Enough that Ben, our UPS guy,  has an inkling when my latest pre-orders will arrive and says stuff like, "Hey, Chel. I think this is the one you've been waiting for." *hangs head* Yes. I'm on a first name basis with my UPS guy. And Carol, our mail lady, she's terrific. She parks the truck in front of my mailbox and hand carries my "hard to find" and "old book" purchases to the door. She's the best. Needless to say, I keep my finger pretty tight on the pulse of when my favorite authors' new releases drop and what the national book retailer buzz is humming about.

But my usual tour through the store? (Assuming I'm without spouse because he taps out after an hour...) I check my list on my handy iPhone -- a wish list. These are the books that are waiting for my next sum of book buying allowance to hit the bank. Often, those are the titles I seek out first as I hit those shelving areas. If nothing is currently on the list (which can happen sometimes) I head straight back to YA. I scan the shelves there, looking for unexpected authors (often adult genre authors publishing their first YA). This is a genre that intrigues me -- because this market is exploding. I'll also peruse the shelves for covers and titles that are different than I expect. I tend toward lots of adventure and genre-bending thriller/fantasies and gritty, emotional literary stories.

Once I've piled my arms with several YA titles, I walk my way through the general fiction section. This usually takes a long time. I tend to read blurbs, backs, first pages, and sometimes whole chapters. If it's a classic or a book some academic in my life swears I must read, I usually look up a few reviews on my iPhone. Yes. I am one of those people who sits on the floor, surrounded by books, in everyone's way... Googling. All the while, my book pile grows. Usually I resort to sliding the piles to the next aisle and apologizing to the other patrons and employees for taking up so much floor space.

Three of a dozen bookshelves the hubs has build. 
Unless I'm in a particularly lusty mood or looking for a recommended read... I skip the Romance section entirely. I tend to buy those titles on eBook. Next, I scan the new release shelves for Mystery/Thriller. By now I have two fair piles of books and I stack them at the end of the Sci/Fi Fantasy aisle. And here is where I stay until (much later) the desire to get a cup of coffee becomes too great.

At this point, I have to bring my stacks to the front counter. Usually the employees are obliging. I scan through my huge stacks, consider the monetary tally, and select a few to put back. Not before taking an iPhone photo of the cover so I can add it to my list.

With my few returns, I leave my culled stack with the kind and capable employee and return the books to their shelves myself. But I stop to get my coffee first. I return the titles to where I found them, often snapping photos of books I missed the first time through. Then, I wander back to the Young Reader section. Here, I spend another large swath of time reading blurbs, backs, first pages, and first chapters. And then I end up generally with a few more books in hand.

On a rare occasion, I swing into the History or Philosophy and Religion aisle. Sometimes even Poetry and Screenplays -- if I'm not tired yet. If there's something I have been thinking of or wondering about, I'll usually pick up a carefully selected title (carefully selected because I scan reviews and synopses online while sitting in the aisle).

On my way back to the counter... I finally skim by the Bestsellers shelves and tables. Normally, I've already read it, bought it long ago, or just have no interest at all. I run buy the New Releases table. Pick ups and photos often happen here too. Finally... I get back to the counter.

Three to six hours have passed. It varies on my energy level.

$150 to $300 later, my shopping trip is complete. Which is why I tend to go to the bookstore with my spouse or meet a friend with a low threshold for book shopping. But if left to my own devices, that's what happens. Thus, I try to keep my bookstore visits to once a month.

Next week starts the first of three Pea Prompts on genre and other nebulous bookish topics. Who will be up first? Not sure... we haven't decided. But it'll be great! See you then.

Peas Out. 

No comments:

Post a Comment