Over the weekend we stopped into the local Barnes & Noble. It was nice to see the store busy, if not exactly packed. The coffee shop was full and they had a nice selection of toys and games to go along with the books. The kids book section was well stocked. About 30% of the floor space was left to ‘classics’. Books originally released at least 20 years ago. So that limits how much floor space they have for new titles. They had a large display area of picture books, with covers out (YEAH!) and had a bazillion middle grade novels/illustrated novels. Vampires, nerds, monsters, kids investigating mysteries…it was completely overwhelming. I had no idea that there were so many of these type of books. After about 10 minutes they all ran together. Reading about a half dozen first pages also brought home the sameness of many of them. But most of them looked great. Beautiful art and plenty of funny character names…
I glanced at the picture books, but if I spend too much time I tend to get kind of depressed. A few of the things that really bug me jump out – overly cute stuff and books where the characters all lack expression. Characters have basically the same look on every page. A look of bemused detachment. The characters seem to suffer from some sort of post modern malaise. They stare into the woods, or at one another like sullen teenagers. Favorite topics revolve around losing ones mittens, or a hat, or wanting to dance or something equally wry. There’s something a tad disingenuous with them though. They don’t seem to capture much about the spirit of younger kids that I pick up on, but they capture plenty of ironic detachement.
But overall I was glad to see what appears to be a fairly healthy book store. We ended up buying a book/game combo thing for an upcoming birthday. My daughter wanted a DVD, but honestly, it’s easier to just order it on iTunes than have another chunk of plastic in the house, so they lost out on that sale.
But overall, the book store was still alive. That made me happy.