I used to browse for hours and hours in the sci-fi /fantasy section of my local Barnes and Noble- while not the biggest section in the world it definitely seemed to have a good area, covering about 2/3 of the back wall in the main part of the store with about the same free standing shelves about equal to the wall space covered by the books. Included in this partly was a tiny nook that held both like TV book adaptions and tabletop RPG rule books for DnD and Warhammer among others. Have the authors that have shaped my own stories in some way were discovered in this section. So for part nostalgia, part I haven’t been in a actual brick and mortal book store in a while I decide while we were out and about today after a few appointments and Chinese lunch to go over and take a peek after my husband asked if there were anywhere else I’d like to go while we were in the area. We’ll not touch on how somewhat bad of an idea it is to take a three year old to a bookstore and expect him to behave long enough for you to browse the shelves at least in the slightest right now because I think everyone can see how this turns out.
Anyway, we walk back and I notice that the store has been rearranged even from what it was last time I was in, now the fantasy/sci-fi section was a fraction of what it was then. The YA books that had the fantasy subgenre were shoved in among the free standing shelves with their own label as though to fill it out more or marketing gimmick and the entire section were tucked behind the romance section. Regardless of my beloved books being shoved into a corner, the same corner that used to just be a continuation of the section in the store, I start looking as my son takes it all in, squealing with excitement and running hands down the shelves he could reach (I will note for my previous statement he was rather well behaved overall). Most of the section was filled with rather the bigger names in fantasy and sci-fi and what there was that stood out seemed to be vampire centric novels mainly – seriously are we done with this crazy yet? I’m tired of vampires really, I’ve been tired of it like two years ago at least. Needless to say I didn’t get anything this time around, couldn’t take nearly as much time as I wanted to look around but left with a somewhat sadness that the section had shrunk so much. As I drove home my husband commented he was sorry I didn’t get a chance to look as much as he knew I would have liked.
“It’s fine,” I tell him. “To be honest the selection wasn’t that appealing to me anyway. I’m rather picky when it comes to books remember?”
“Yeah, but still.”
“I actually wanted to go because I like the store and missed looking at physical books and, in a self-centered way, see if my book was there by a fluke- so I at least accomplished that.”
“You don’t have anything with them though, right?”
“So long as there’s demand my books can appear anywhere really.” I sigh, “That section really made me sad though.”
“Because it was so tiny- a lot smaller from what it used to be. I wonder what happened.”
“Must not have been selling that well,” he shrugs in his seat.
“Maybe, always seemed full back in the old days when I used to be there quite a lot. Even the last time was pretty crowded.”
Its sad to see a that section tucked away like a forgotten toy with no one really beside me and my husband son browsing the shelves, shrunk to a fraction of it’s former sizes. I look at it from two different angles understandably-as an author who writes fantasy- how successful with a shrinking section would a book signing, going with the thought of not too many sales, be in my city- what are the chances I’d see my name with the others on the shelves? As a reader I’m sad because if I want a physical book in a reasonable distance, we don’t have too many small book shops around my area, there is less variety that I can get immediately and have that whole experience. I’m thinking the last one actually makes me sadder.