Armed with a gift card and internet coupon, I spent several hours yesterday at two of the major chain book retailers.
I had a 40% off coupon from Borders for taking an online survey so I headed there first, since the coupon expires on September 7. I was hard-pressed to find anything I wanted to spend it on. There were some copies of books that are on my tentative to-read list, but had some damage. Either that or Borders is dog-earring the pages for you before you buy. For pre-damaged books I’ll go to Powells and buy them used. I did, however, come away with a 2010 wall calendar because I’ve never seen one of these before, and they didn’t have many. From Amber Lotus Publishing:
Sir Simon Marsden‘s startlingly atmospheric black-and-white infrared photographs reveal this hidden world and his ghostly and beguiling images transport the reader to a different realm; a haunted realm. In The Haunted Realm 2010 wall calendar, each photograph is accompanied by accounts of the apparitions that have been reported at each site, and the strange and often macabre real-life events which are said to lie behind them.
I need all the atmosphere I can get. I also picked up a packet of two bookmarks with cartoon, colored skulls. More atmosphere. And a book, incredibly enough, John Connolly’s The Book of Lost Things.
This took awhile. And in my ramblings around the store, I was dismayed to see a great deal of open floorspace. Vast oceans of it, between the racks of cards and gew-gaws and trinkets, and the few remaining racks of CDs, and then over to the books. Why are they not filling these spaces with more racks of books? And are they phasing out the music section entirely? The ‘horror’ section filled a mere five shelves, probably three feet across. Abysmal selection. But the cashier is happy to tell you that they can order in pretty much anything. If this were a tiny, hole-in-the-wall indie bookseller, you could understand a limited selection. But this was a half-empty Borders. This can’t be a good sign.
Next stop with gift card was Barnes & Noble. They don’t seem to be diminishing, no gulfs of space between book racks, and they don’t seem to have ceded any territory to gifts and trinkets. But they have no ‘horror’ section as such, it’s all mixed in with “fiction and literature,” the salesperson assured me. Well, not quite. H.P. Lovecraft was in the science fiction section, and while some of his stuff crosses genres, what I was interested in does not.
Still there was no hope of locating any of the more obscure titles I was looking for such as William Hope Hodgson’s The Ghost Pirates, Fritz Lieber’s Conjure Wife, William Sloane’s To Walk the Night. I did come away with a collection of Lovecraft’s stories. I know they can’t stock every book in the world, but these are classics of the genre.
Has anyone else noticed dwindling book supplies?