Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Diminishing bookshelves?

When I lived in Nebraska in the mid 1990s it wasn't unusual to see the CW sections at Borders and Barnes & Noble stores stocked with hundreds of CW books, including many excellent and fresh but comparative obscure titles from smaller presses. This also was true to a lesser extent here on the west coast during that time. Take this forward to today and the story is dramatically different in the same bookstores I visit regularly in Washington, Oregon, and to a lesser extent northern California. Now, especially at B&N (Borders is a bit better), I typically find a few dozen titles at best, nearly all of which are from major publishing houses with time honored author names like McPherson, Sears, Foote, Catton, etc. etc. Online retailers (large and small) have certainly picked up the slack nicely for experienced readers, but it certainly is discouraging to think of novice readers browsing the aisles of these brick and mortar stores and only being exposed to such trite fare.

1 comment:

  1. Drew,

    I agree completely. I used to go to Borders and Barnes & Noble here in SW Illinois near St. Louis quite often. Now I do all of my buying through Abebooks, Amazon, Alibris, eBay, C. Clayton Thompson, Morningside, Camp Pope, and a few others. What do they all share in common? They're all online shops.

    On a related side note, I find it hard to believe that there are no large bookstores in the St. Louis area dedicated solely to the Civil War. I contacted the St. Louis CWRT and they told me just that last summer.

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