Ok “hate” is a strong word, but yes, I do. I’m a reader, writer and word lover, and yet I hate Barnes & Noble.
I don’t mean to pick on Barnes & Noble exclusively. They are just the last big-chain bookstore. I sometimes frequent small, independently run bookstores and I must say, the same reasons apply.
Here they are:
1. I spend more money than I want to.
So usually my trips to Barnes & Noble start with a need. Notice I said “a”, as in singular. Maybe I need a book for my book club, or a book on a current topic of interest. Or I need the book that was highly recommended to me. Again, singular. But I end up leaving with a bag that feels like a brick wall was dismantled and stuffed inside. And yes, this says more about my self-control than anything else, but still.
2. I feel financially irresponsible whenever I shop there.
This is directly related to the previous reason, but true even if I only purchase one book. Maybe I can justify a single purchase for several dollars more than Amazon’s price, but several? No. That’s just crazy. It adds up to a lot of money. It’s like having a 40% off coupon in my hand and cavalierly crumbling and throwing it away in the café. Who would do that? Not I. Well, sometimes I do.
3. There’s never enough time to spend there.
Once I give myself permission to browse, it’s hard to stop. I feel like I’m missing something if I don’t check out the Best Sellers, New Arrivals, Children’s section, all the Bargain Books, (in both the regular and children’s sections), the magazines (nobody carries such a large selection anymore), and the blank journals. Of course there are always the Buy Two Get One Free tables interspersed throughout the store which is an effective marketing scheme to get people like me to keep meandering.
And then of course there’s the time spent culling the books in my arms that I’ve acquired along the way. There are complex calculations in my head with regard to whether I can/should splurge, what exactly constitutes a splurge, and what’s a downright silly amount to spend on books in one trip.
I have a dear friend who I once consulted for advice about whether to buy something. She said to me, “Do you want me to talk you into it or out of it?” I loved her for the deep loyalty and support that question entailed. I try to be that good friend to myself. I just can’t decide which side of the argument I should be on. So this is what’s happening if you ever see me talking to myself while fumbling with books in a Barnes & Noble aisle.
4. The writer in me becomes discouraged.
When I see that many books, which I know is only a small fraction of what’s published every year, I feel despair. After all, even the book of Ecclesiastes declares “there’s nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). I start to doubt my ability to say or create anything fresh. There are only 26 letters in the alphabet. It’s incredible how much has already been created with such limited inventory. I think about the rejections of my manuscripts so far and I want to give up. See? Barnes & Noble is not a good place for my insecure writer within.
5. The writer in me becomes hopeful….
….which then is a set up for disappointment when I hear crickets after submitting a manuscript and waiting the required 4-6 weeks for a phone call than never comes. You see I try very hard to not let reason #4 get me down and instead, look upon the thousands of authors on the shelves as evidence of opportunity. First time authors have manuscripts published all the time, so why not me? But hope can be a dangerous thing. It’s easier to avoid Barnes & Noble altogether and order books online where the shelves are out of sight and therefore, thankfully, out of mind.
6. I get sidetracked and lose focus.
If I’m in a Barnes & Noble store, I’m usually on a mission to purchase something specific. But then I see the kit that teaches you how to fold little pieces of colored paper (included in the box) and for $6.95 who wouldn’t want to learn the ancient art of origami? And suddenly I’m going down a bunny trail that is fun at the outset, but often ends in frustration, because nothing is as easy as it seems.
So there you have it. Why I avoid going to Barnes & Noble at all costs. I’ve invested in a Prime Membership at Amazon so I can have (almost) instant gratification when I want a book, thereby helping me avoid the trip to Dangerville.
I do need a new planner for the upcoming school year, however, and I’ve heard Barnes & Noble has a good variety. And those are hard to purchase online because they can have different layouts and be organized in many ways. They require in-person perusal and selection.
Or so I tell myself.
What stores are dangerous for you to step foot into? And how do you resist overspending?