I stopped by my local Barnes and Noble yesterday to pick up a few books. Four great-looking reads in four genres: a contemporary romance by Toni Blake, a paranormal romance by Angela Knight, a historical romance by Jennifer Haymore, and a romantic suspense by Laura Griffen.
Angela Knight and Toni Blake are on my auto-buy list, and I love Jennifer Haymore’s elegant and heartfelt historical romances. Since my latest project is a Christmas historical romance, I thought I could pick up some tips from Jennifer and enjoy a great read at the same time. I’m new to Laura Griffen, but I’m always looking for a good romantic suspense.
It wasn’t all fun and games at the bookstore, though. Every time I stop by one of the big chains, I notice less shelf space for books. At Barnes and Noble, some of that space has been given over to the NOOK display, which is all about reading and buying books. So that’s great. But more and more floor space seems to be going to kid’s toys and games, and lifestyle products. In the romance section, shelf space for authors’ back titles is really contracting. There’s quite a bit of room for new releases, but if you’re not one of the big dogs, forget about seeing back titles. And even for most of the big dogs the bookstores only carry a few back titles for each author in stock. Unless you’re looking for a book by Nora Roberts or Fern Michaels, good luck finding an older book.
I have mixed feelings about this. More romance readers are buying on-line, either at Amazon or from e-book retailers, and that’s great. But I really like to browse for back titles and it frustrates the hell out of me when I can’t find them in the bookstore. I guess that most stores have just given up trying to compete with Amazon, and I think that’s a crying shame. I adore hanging out in bookstores, but there’s less and less incentive for me to go there. Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy.
What about you? Are bookstores still a place you like visiting, or have they become an exercise in readership frustration?