Before I answer the question asked in the title of this blog entry, how many of you have been to a brick and mortar bookstore recently?
I have to admit that it has been quite a long time for me. Probably since before the start of the pandemic. As discussed in previous entries, the pandemic really shifted our migration to online shopping into hyperdrive. We could buy anything we wanted from the comfort of our homes. And with shipping features like Amazon Prime, we could feel confident we would get most if not all of our purchases within 48 hours.
Aside from the convenience, online shopping made things easy. It was intuitive. We could search for our desired item by name. We could see the product, read lots of product information and reviews and even watch videos of the product in action. When we clicked “order” we were certain that we were getting what we came for.
Flash forward to today which is 4 days before Christmas. I read about a new book that I thought would make a great gift for a family member. Since I didn’t want to risk the delivery showing up late for Christmas, I decided to brave the local Barnes & Noble.
Now just to be clear, I used to LOVE going to bookstores. I could kill gobs of time browsing through different sections, reading the book jackets, getting a cup of coffee, and perusing a new book while sipping my coffee in a big comfy chair.
I get to B&N and head directly to the Biography section. I had to look around a bit to find it. It should have been my first clue that there were a LOT more sections than I remembered. I searched alphabetically by the author’s name and…..ZILCH. Nothing. Now this is a new release biography by a fairly famous performer, so it has to be here, right?
After a bit of searching, I located a sales clerk who said she would look it up on their system for me. She punches in the author’s name and the name of the book. “OK, here’s your problem,” she tells me. This performer is a comedian, so his biography isn’t in the Biography section – it is in the Humor section. The system says they currently have 20 copies in stock.
Together, we march over to the Humor section – which, by the way, is nowhere near the Biography section – and…….ZILCH. Nothing. Now the sales clerk is as perplexed as I am. “It should be here,” she tells me. She tells me to wait there while she goes “downstairs” to look for it in their stock inventory.
After about 6-7 minutes, she returns with a copy of the book in hand. Success! She apologizes and says it is very strange that the book is not on the shelf during the lead up to Christmas. Very strange indeed. I thank her and go back to browsing.
Five minutes later, I literally bump into a table with a big sign on it reading “Manager’s Picks”. What do I find on that table? Twelve copies of the biography I came in for in the first place. I shit you not. So it was not in the Biography section where most red-blooded Americans would search for a biography. It was not in the Humor section where some inventory manager thought it would make more sense to display it. Instead, every copy is stacked on a table with randomly collected titles that NOBODY would ever find if not by happenstance. Good grief!!
I don’t know about you but I’m going back to online shopping.
Thanks for reading!