R. Thomas Brown has for some unexplained reason, or maybe temporary confusion of some kind, agreed to do a guest post for us here at Hardboiled Partners in Crime. He was also kind enough to let me post a rambling movie review over at his place Criminal Thoughts.
We're thrilled to have him here and before he changes his mind I'm posting this baby. Ron discusses the current state of book stores and where we unfortunately find ourselves.
While you're at it, go get Hill Country if you haven't already. I guarantee you won't put it down until you finish it. Without further ado, here is Ron.
Bookstores, A Lament
I love bookstores. Most writers love bookstores. Being in the presence of all the shelves. Finding little gems tucked away that you’d never heard of, but seem like the book you’d been wanting to read for ages. New books. Used books. I love them all and the stores that hold them.
Not long ago, I was lucky enough to visit Powell’s in Portland. Massive place. Felt like I was going to get lost in there, but it was wonderful. My wife was at a conference, and I killed a few hours just roaming the rooms and aisles. Fantastic time, and worth all the pennies I dropped while there.
But, that trip seemed like a final hurrah for my bookstore adoration. We have a nice, big Barnes and Noble near the house. Pretty store, comfortable, a nice place to grab a coffee and relax. But not so much for my book buying.
Now, the children and teen section is great. Almost always has what I’m looking for. The suggested reading displays are a nice mix of books by topic or relating to some literary interest. A good mix of fiction, non-fiction, hobby, etc. Really great.
And nothing like the general and genre fiction areas. What remains of them (now less than a quarter of the store) is almost entirely big names. Sure, I can find Gone Girl, but that’s hardly a discovery worth going to the store to find. It wasn’t always that way. Even just a year ago, I found a good number of books from smaller presses.
Of course, there used to be sections for mystery, horror, speculative, romance, literature, and a few other genres that I never really went toward, but held 4 or 5 shelves to themselves. Now, it’s down to about ten aisles total, plus the table of new releases. That’s about it.
Which means, that while I can find what I know I want (sometimes, though not the last six books I intended to pick up and didn’t want to wait for shipping) I’ve really lost my confidence in finding something new when browsing. So, mainly it’s a trip to the younger section, looking at the really cool stuff my ten year-old is reading, and then heading out.
I don’t know if this is typical, or if it has any greater meaning for the future of book sales or that whole discussion. What I do know is that I still like to go there. I still love the atmosphere. I still love being inspired by what I see and read about (despite the fact that my son is now demanding I write a book for him.) I just don’t expect to find anything for me, and have basically stopped looking when I go.
So, how do I discover new books? Maybe I’ll post on that later.
But what about you? Is this happening at your local stores? Different for indie stores vs chain? How do you find books?