Friday, July 14, 2006

Treasure Hunting

I have to give props to my local Borders bookstore. It has an amazing romance novel section. At least two full aisles are devoted to the genre, with shelves that reach over my head. They pull hardbacks and over-sized paperbacks together, analogies are shelved with each other, and the rest is the normal by-author alphabetized.

The Barnes and Noble nearest me, which just so happens to be about 1/16th of a mile down the street from Borders, isn't quite as nicely organized. I imagine they devote the same amount of shelf space to romance because the B&N shelves go way higher than the ones at Borders. But they don't cull out special titles other than newest offerings. For some reason, shopping for romance at B&N makes me feel slightly inferior. Perhaps this is because the romance aisle is set toward the back of the store, whereas at Borders they are located in the dead center of the store. I don't feel like I'm slinking off to the back room.

Actually, though, I rarely buy romance novels at brick-and-mortar bookstores. I prefer to get them either on-line or at Walmart/KMart/Target. The former is preferable because I can buy in batches and find every single title I'm looking for at one stop. This is never the case when I go to B&N or Borders. In fact, I usually mean both stores when I throw out a "I'm going to the bookstore" because I always try B&N first (I have a membership card there and can save 10% right off the top) but then end up heading to Borders if I can't find what I'm looking for. And as shamed as I am to admit it, I like saving the buck or so I get when I buy paperbacks at the discount stores. Especially if I'm taking a gamble on a new author.

The only books I buy at B&N/Borders not on-line are new releases that I just can't wait to get my hands on. This causes its own frustration when I cruise on down, my heart thumping in anticipation, only to find out the book isn't shelved. I'm the type of person who loathes to ask for any help, so I'm stuck between wanting my book and dealing with the angst of sending a sales person to the stockroom in search of it.

One thing B&N/Borders stores have that I can't find elsewhere are the bargain books. I love love love bargain books. Especially bargain reference books. I have more books on various topics I've picked up this way, books on everything from the history of firearms to the haunted castles of Scotland. These are books I'd never go searching for on their own, books I'd normally just check out of the library on an as-needed basis, but that I just love having at my fingertips should I require an immediate fact or another. Since you never quite know what you'll find at any given moment, wandering the bargain aisles is a bit like going on a treasure hunt. And it's just not the same cruising the bargain pages of the B&N/Borders' websites.

Before kids, when my husband and I lived in the city, a favorite form of Friday and/or Saturday night entertainment was dinner and a trip to the bookstore. We could spend hours just browsing the shelves. My husband would use the bookstore as a magazine library - pull up a chair and flip through a mag while I wandered the aisles. I always felt guilty on his behalf and would nag him to just buy the dang thing and read it at home. We seldom bought books, or at least rarely ever more than one. Or two.

Now, when I find myself in a bookstore without kids, I'm like a kid in a candy store. I rarely walk out with only one book. In fact, going with the hubby has lost its charm because he always eyes my growing stack with disapproval.

And unlike my purchases from Amazon or B&, I can't just mingle the new books into the shelves with the old. He knows what I'm up to.

How I'm feeding my book addiction.

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