I’ve got a monkey on my back: Barnes & Noble.
I read a lot of books these days. A few of them I get from the library, but like a lot of librarians I know, I confess I like owning books more than borrowing them. Some of them get sent to me by publishers to review. But most of them I buy at Barnes & Noble. Once in awhile I’ll shop online, but even then — this afternoon I bought a book from Amazon while I was standing in Barnes & Noble, with my iPhone (the Amazon price was a lot lower).
It’s the whole experience. Going into the store, preferably when I’ve got plenty of time to spare. Checking out the bestsellers, the tables of paperback fiction, glancing — more out of nostalgia for my teenage genre of choice than anything else — at the science fiction section. Stopping to look at a display. I usually get a coffee and wander through the music department. Deciding what to buy, of course; I can’t remember the last time I left B&N without a couple of new books, to add to the pile next to my bed, even though lord knows my checking account would prefer I did a little more window shopping and a little less take-home.
I’m not alone, either. Everyone else in the store is doing the same thing, alone or with friends, walking around or camped out for hours with their laptops, stacks of books strewn around. And I know it’s all frightfully commercial. I know I’m absolutely buying in to what Tom Hanks’ character was talking about in You’ve Got Mail when he said:
We’ll seduce them with our square footage and our deep armchairs and our amazingly swift checkout lines and our discounts and our cappuccino bar. They hate us in the beginning, but we get them in the end.
Yeah, well. Sometimes a marketing strategy works because it’s true.
You know, my nieces and I did all the Harry Potter midnight release parties, and sometimes when I would tell people about them, they’d roll their eyes. But I’d say to them, people are lined up and camped out for a book. How great is that? And so by the same token, those people in Barnes & Noble with me, even the ones with their lattes and their laptops, they’re there for books. They’re reading. They’re a little bit addicted too.
How great is that?