Confessions of a Children's Author

Monday, August 22, 2005

Boo for Borders!

First of all, let me say that I got a magical gift for my birthday... No, it's not a gift certificate for a new wand, it's an IPOD!!! It's a cute tiny little thing ("no bigger than a pack of gum," one website touted) that is currently loaded with over 5 hours of music (I haven't loaded it to its capacity yet) that serves the dual purpose of being music my main character would listen to and also helps drown out (most of) the ambient noise in the library. Especially helpful the last few times I've been there, since I've had to sit near the computers just outside the children's department where there has been a group of boys playing computer games together very noisily. I still don't get the noise at the library thing--I mean, the children's librarian at my hometown library, Mrs. Bortner, would never let anyone get away with speaking above a whisper. Even if there'd been computers in the library back then. Which there weren't. Which I know is very hard to imagine for anyone who may be reading this who was born before, say, 1985. (Don't get me started on that subject--my fiance has been teasing me lately about the frequency with which "when I was a kid..." has been popping up in my conversation lately. Am I already old enough to be saying that??)

Anyway, that was the positive news for today's entry. The non-positive news (I'd say that other word, but I'm making a concerted effort not to be negatative... oh, rats, I said it anyway!) was the very sad state of affairs I found in the children's department of a certain bookstore last night. I will admit, for the sake of full disclosure, that Barnes and Noble is the bookstore that is more near and dear to my heart since I was a kid. (I know how some other writers will look down their noses at me for saying that I actually like a chain bookstore, but I will also say for the record that Children's Book World in Los Angeles is one of my favorite bookstores ever and I prefer to buy children's books there, but there are times in life that I do find myself in the larger chains. If Children's Book World sold magazines about Hawaii and honeymoon destinations, I would have been shopping there last night, instead. But I digress...) This does not mean that I hold a pre-conceived bias against Borders, but I just wanted to set the record straight. Anyway, last night I found myself in the Borders in Westwood, where a friend dropped me off after dinner so I could hang out until my fiance could pick me up (long story, but suffice it to say that with gas prices at $3/gallon, I'm making my contribution to the carpooling effort). Once I had a couple of magazines on hand that would serve their purpose of helping me decide where exactly to go for the honeymoon (I've never been--any island suggestions, anyone?), I decided to wander over to the Young Adult department.

Easy, right? At Children's Book World, there's an entire room dedicated to anything of a higher reading level than a picture book. At my local Barnes and Noble, the Young Adult section lines the outer rim of the Children's department (maybe so the teens don't have to be embarrassed to actually enter the Children's department? Makes sense to me...). Where, you ask, was the Young Adult department at the Westwood Borders? Good question. It took me almost five minutes to find it. Was it next to the Children's department? No. Was it anywhere near Adult Fiction? No. It was up against a wall around a corner, in front of the Audio Books section, and the only way I found it was because I had turned around to walk out of that area, about to give up. It was almost as if they stuck the bookcase back there like an outcast teenager (okay, maybe I'm reading too much into that), either because they didn't want it to take up better real estate on the sales floor (sorry--a sign I worked in retail for too long), or because they wanted to give the teen readers of these books the privacy they deserved so they wouldn't be embarrassed to be seen reading them. (Somehow I don't think it was the latter, but I was trying to give Borders the benefit of the doubt.) Ah, but it gets worse.

The bookshelves were a mess. Now, I know I'm a bit particular, since I was previously in retail and my mother owned a store for many years, so I do find myself a bit more judgemental than the average person of how a sales floor looks (if you see some strange woman rearranging a messy greeting card fixture or picking up fallen clothes and putting them back on hangers, it's probably me). HOWEVER, this area was atrocious. Books were every which-way, not properly alphabetized (there was an acrylic shelf tag for Sarah Dessen, though most of her books were not actually above her name--and why was there only a shelf tag for that one author?? Sorry Sarah, I love your books! But I'm just saying...), and I found it puzzling that the books that were stocked on the top shelf (which was about a foot above my head, and I'm probably at least a foot taller than most kids who would want to read these books) were not also found down below, in a more accessible place. I found the whole area disheartening. Boo, Borders!!!

Ahhh (releasing a deep breath), now I feel better!!


  • At 12:23 AM, Blogger chizi said…

    I have to say, I've never been a huge fan of Borders either (except for the one in Santa Barbara because for some reason, I remember they had great bagels during my college years).

    Why is it that when I talk to you, we always end up on food...even when I'm not trying to go there! :)


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