I have for years idetified myself as someone who avoids buying books at Barnes & Noble. I've probably forgotten most of the reasons why I don't "support" them, but its probably that general stuff about how they're ruining the publishing industry and killing local booksellers kind of thing. In true uninformed-hypocritical fashion, however, I purchase all my books and DVDs from Amazon.com. Nonetheless, I try not to pour too much money into the B&N vacuum.
But I found myself the other day killing time at a Barnes & Noble that opened near my house. I have to admit, it was a surprisingly pleasant expereince. First, I perused 2009 calendars, and opted for a poster style calendar of vivd Japenese woodcuts. Runners up were the vintage postcards from Italy and Paris. I failed to buy a 2008 calendar, last year and as a result, have had not one but two 2007 calendars hanging in my room on the December page since, well, December 2007. I want to avoid that next year.
Then i went in search of Sarah Vowell's new release "The Wordy Shipmates," another of her whimsically ironic, rigourously researched examinations in American History, in this case, the Mayflower. On the way, a paperback on a new release display caught my eye. I recognized Edward Hopper's "Rooms By the Sea" wrapping around the front of a book and looked closer to find that it was actually the paperback release of a former professor of mine's memoir. I've had Allen Shawn's Wish I Could Be There: Notes on a Phobic Life on my wishlist for awhile, and was stoked to see the paperback sitting right there, looking engaging and well-marketed. I studied music composition with Allen, and also rank seeing the play he composed and co-wrote with his brother Wallace Shawn as one of my top ten most enjoyable nights in the theatre. Did I grab that book and purchase it? No, I updated my amazon wishlist to have the paperback instead of the hardcover.
What did I buy? Um, well, after six different people offered to let me borrow their copy of Twilight but never remembered to bring it, I caved an just bought a copy. I figure I might have lots of snarky or celebratory comments to write in the margins.
Then last of all, at the checkout counter, I was asked if I wanted to purchase a book for a charity book drive. They had three options. One was some generic looking juvenile fantasy novel, one was an Aztec-themed Choose Your Own Adventure, and the other was Oliver Button Is A Sissy by Tomie dePaola. This is one of the best children's books in existence, and I was happy to add $7 to my purchase so that a kid somewhere can have their own copy of it.
Overall, I didn't feel too awful about the money I spent at the Mega Bookstore.