A Successful Trip to B&N

I took a trip to Barnes & Noble the other day and walked out with three new books. This is an unusual occurrence for two reasons. First, because I tend to do all of my book-buying online (whether ordering paperbacks from B&N or Books-a-Million or snagging an eBook while it’s on sale). Second, because I rarely find books or authors that interest me (the YA section excluded).

I’m going to chock my success up checking the B&N website for whether the Maureen Johnson’s new book, The Vanishing Stair, was actually in stock at my local B&N. The other two books were just a bonus: I decided to grab a physical copy of Truly Devious for my re-read and there were autographed copies of An Absolutely Remarkable Thing in stock.

How’s your luck with brick-and-mortar bookstores? Do you have a go-to bookstore or method of finding books?

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A Letter to Barnes & Noble

Dear Barnes & Noble,

I’ve been shopping in your stores for over a decade and have bought hundreds of books through the years. Wandering through row after row of shelves, poking my nose into unread books, and shuffling through the clearance section made me lose hours in your store. I even bought my eReader from you, and it has served me well for the past three years (though I’ve lost the charger and you no longer sell them).

While I’ve popped onto your website to peruse the selection there, it’s never been nearly as fun as going into a brick and mortar store. And I would honestly rather visit a store than shop online since online shopping is slowly eroding the bookstore experience. (It played a massive role in the demise of Borders, after all.)

But it’s getting tougher and tougher to justify making the trip to the store.

I typically have a book (or two) in mind whenever I visit, and I’ll scour the shelves for them in vain. The only time that I have any luck finding a certain book is when the author is well-known or have a decent-sized following. It makes sense to me looking at it from your perspective, stocking what has the greatest likelihood of being sold. It just means I don’t necessarily find what I’m looking for. Once or twice, it isn’t a big deal. But every time I visit…

Whenever I visit B&N online–a virtual bookstore with an infinite amount of shelf space–I always find what I’m looking.  Plus there always seems to be a sale going on, so paperback books are typically under $10. And my B&N members card means that shipping is free no matter how much I buy. .

I’ve only had good experiences at your stores. But it’s becoming increasingly harder to justify shopping in brick and mortar stores.

Last week I visited a B&N store in South Park in Charlotte, North Carolina. I’d found A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn on your website for just over $9, and I was more than ecstatic when I found that book on the shelf at your store. At least until I got to the register. The paperback book in my hands was $14 and change.

A $5 difference between picking up a book in-store versus ordering it online is huge. I’m on a limited budget, and nearly all of my books are purchased with gift cards. So I try to stretch those funds as long as I can. And $5 could buy me a couple of eBooks or take a huge chunk out of a paperback that’s on sale.

There’s no other way to say this: I’m breaking up with your stores. Whatever shopping I do from now on will be at BarnesandNoble.com. Now I may slip up now and then around the holidays when you get signed copies of books in-stock, however don’t expect it to be a regular thing. We’re just not meant to be.

Signed,

A Book Lover

My New eReader

I’ve avoided the eReader craze for quite a while. As a writer, I’m a huge advocate for holding and reading an actual book. I love being able to feel the pages in my hands, judge how long it’ll take me to read while it’s still on the shelf, and smell the distinctive old and new book smell if I put my nose to the pages.

I don’t see books disappearing, ever. There are too many readers who enjoy browsing bookstore shelves. And I know that I love nothing more than coming home with a bag full of books.

Reviewing Act Like You Love Me made me reconsider not having an eReader. Since it’s an eBook, I received it as a PDF in my email. I don’t particularly enjoy reading on my computer. I feel tied down in a way I don’t with paperbacks, and I probably would have been able to convince myself to finish the book faster if I wasn’t being routinely distracted by Facebook and Twitter. 

The biggest hurdle for me to overcome was how easy it would be for me to purchase books. I worried that I might get carried away with buying books without thinking much about it. To buy a paperback or hardcover, I’d have to drive all the way to the bookstore, and then I’d still have the ability to change my mind before I get to the register.

I’d never actually searched the eReader bookstores for free books. I knew that they existed, but I didn’t know how many to expect in the search results. Then I found out that there are over 1.7 million free books in the NOOK bookstore. Sure a large portion of those are erotic romances, but I’ve found a fair number of other genres that I can download. (More on the quality of those books later.)

So I managed to talk myself into wanting an eReader, and I got a Barnes and Noble NOOK for my birthday.

I’m actually quite surprised to say that I really enjoy my new NOOK. Sure it’s been less than a day since I picked it out, but this little eReader is really growing on me. I’m still figuring it out at the moment. I haven’t quite figured out if I can purchase books with a B&N gift card, so that’s my next project. Otherwise I’ll budget myself for a book or two a month, choosing a free one the rest of the time.

I’m not going to be  abandoning my books . I still have a bunch on the shelf that need to be read. I like that the NOOK gives me options: eBooks, self-published, and an entire B&N bookstore in the small tablet. But I won’t be using it on airplanes. Call me old-fashioned, but I love not having to store my book during takeoff and landing.

Do you have an eReader? How does it compare to reading a paperback or hardcover?