Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I hate bookstores

I did something today I haven't done in a long while. It's usually the kind of thing I reserve for the kinds of Stephen Fry.

I went to a bookstore.

And I was unimpressed.

Last time I went to a bookstore, it was to pick up The Ode Less Traveled, by Stephen Fry. Great book; I learned a lot. Still haven't finished it, though. But I suppose it's not something one should rush through. That was years ago.

This time, I was aiming for a couple of books that were on my mind for a while, and which I should've read long, long ago: Predictably Irrational, by Dan Ariely, and Malcolm Gladwell's Blink.

So I went into the bookstore. And then I remembered why I don't go to bookstores. I like books, mind you. I like reading. I like libraries. Bookstores, not so much.

First thing I do when entering the bookstore is the interminable trek through all the rubbish they're trying to sell you in lieu of books: mugs, notebooks, diaries, candles, teas, and a whole truckload of useless overpriced shit. No, I don't want a $5 candle. No, I don't want a $12 notebook with 50 pages in it. Even if it's hardcover. And that image on the cover is Public Domain, so you've got no excuse. And if I want crockery, I'll go to a crockery store, thank you.

The journey through tableware led me to the second floor, right into the café. Mind you, this is where the books are supposed to be. And if you like your books like I do mine, then coffee is probably the very last thing you want near your books. I don't know who's the genius who came up with the idea of implanting a café in the middle of a bookstore. I want to buy books, darnit, not a lifestyle!

At this point I've pretty much discovered where they stash their books. I just have to find the ones relevant to my interest. Left: Fiction. Ahead: Self-help. Right: Business (which in my book should be under that Self-help section).

Now here's a question for you folks: Where am I supposed to find my books? Is there any kind of system that will actually tell me, Yes, your book will be in this section of the bookstore, bookshelf X, shelf B.

Well, no. The bookstore people actually expect me to go around trying to determine where my book goes. I figure, I'm a big girl, I know what my book's about, I can look for it myself, right?

Predictably Irrational, I know what that's about. Behaviour and stuff like that. Choices. Psychology then? (Of course Psychology is under Self-Help, so I get to look like a lost tween in need of relationship advice while looking for my book, but that's another rant altogether.)

Choices! There's a whole shelf on Choices. No book I'm looking for. Ok, fine. Business then? (Don't even get me started on why "Programming" is under the big Business sign. I don't think any sense went into planning the floor.) Marketing. Book sounds like it might be under Marketing.

Oh look, more books on choices, and one book from the same author of that book on choices that was in the Choices section. Probably the sequel. Still, no luck.

At this point, I'm getting reasonably annoyed, and I guess I really can't find my way in a bookstore. The computer was no help. Told me my book was in the Business - General section. I didn't even know there _was_ a Business - General section. The computer also told me Blink was in Culture and Society or something like that.

Lemme geddat straight. A book about how people make choices is in Business. A book about how people make judgments is in Culture? Why can't the friggin bookstore be Dewey-coded?

Anyway. I finally decided that such extreme sports were not for me, poached a store clerk to get my book, went to pay, got stuck at checkout because there were only 2 cashiers, 8 people in line, and the two customers at the cash were ordering books or doing what customers do that takes forever.

I just wanted to buy a book, dammit!

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