Why aren't book stores organized like libraries?

Posted in: Books

Continuing the story of my acquisition of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, it should be noted that I almost didn't buy those books. I was maybe 10 steps away from walking out of Borders without having made any purchase when my wandering eye just happened to catch Pride sitting on the table of special deal titles. I was really glad when I managed to find it, and Sense on that same table, that my frustration with Borders, and book stores / retail in general, didn't bubble-up to the surface where I could turn it into blog material.

Just this lunch time though, when I was wandering once again through Borders during one of my routine do-you-guys-have-this-book sessions, those frustrations resurfaced and I found myself asking: why aren't book stores organized like libraries?

Dewey Decimal System
The Dewey Decimal System: it works bitches!

I raised the question to my family, who quickly responded that it's because of the 'store' part of book store, and that retail stores make their money by making things as difficult as possible for their customers.

By 'difficult', I don't mean laying bear traps on the floor and having a swarm of angry bees attack you as you look around. No, stores make things difficult through their layouts which are planned in such a way that there is as much crap between the entrance and the item that you seek, and that the distance between those 2 is just long enough that it's right before the point in which you start tearing-out your hair in frustration before going home or going to a competitor's store where you'll likely subject yourself to the same frustrations, except against a different backdrop.

For browsing type shoppers, they're probably fine with this, but for hit-and-run type shoppers like myself who won't even enter a store unless there's something in there that I'm 105% looking to buy, this annoys me to no end. I mean, at the library, I can search through their catalogue ONLINE, find the EXACT title I'm looking for, and have their system tell me if it's available. If it is, I can go to the library and easily FIND the title in their building. This is all done for FREE.

By comparison, Borders' catalogue is only available to in-store shoppers, so I HAVE to go to their store. Then when I do a search, I'm presented with A METRIC CRAP-TONNE OF INEXACT MATCHES and the results tell me if the items I don't care about are in stock or not. If the item I'm looking for just happens to be in that list of results and it is available, I try look for it myself. As is often the case, a title can be found in SEVERAL DIFFERENT PLACES depending on whether or not it's on special. Even then I often find myself asking one of the store assistants if they can locate what their system says should exist somewhere on the shelves, and if they didn't get the memo that the title went on sale that very morning and so all copies of it were heaped amongst several non-related-but-also-on-special titles of the bargain tables, then I might as well have just asked a donkey if it could point me in the direction of Alaska. At the end of this complicated dance, I have to PAY for the book.

I sincerely hope that a large chunk of that money goes towards the author, because I came there to pay for the content of the book, not the annoying experience of having to find it in a store laid-out so inefficiently that it felt like I was in a labyrinth and feared running into a minotaur (or David Bowie).

Labyrinth (film)

You know what was terrible about the whole Pride and Sense purchase? I was leaving the store, not just because I couldn't find those books on the shelves, but because I couldn't find those books on the shelves AFTER their catalogue system told me that neither were in stock...

Fuck you Borders; you've killed my inner child.