I read a New York Times article (http://www.usatoday.com/life/books/news/2011-02-10-1Abookstores10_CV_N.htm )  earlier today that got me thinking about where I buy my books, particularly the differences in the stores I frequent.  I, presumably like most people, tend to go to the big super stores like Books-A-Million or Barns and Noble as opposed to some of the more out of the way independent places.   So I started thinking, how do the big stores stack up against the smaller ones?  Let’s start with the big places and then cover the small ones.

I’ve come to the point where some of the things big stores do annoys me.  Like the big tables that B&N and BAM have in so many of their stores now where they try to sell you a Nook.  It’s great that they’re trying to show people how to use it and how awesome it is, but why does it have to be in the middle of the walkway.  Really guys I want to go look at books, not get accosted by a friendly sales person who just knows that I want to buy a Nook.  This could have been nifty for a couple of weeks after the Nook came out, or even after the stores started carrying it, but not as a permanent fixture.  Likewise at Amazon’s online store, I have a Kindle stop telling me about how wonderful the deals I can get on one now are.  The employees at big stores also tend to not seem as knowledgeable about what’s in the store as the employees at independent places.  I spent half an hour at Books-A-Million last weekend trying to figure out if they had a comic I was looking for, it took asking three different people at the service desk and four trips to the comics section to find out that they weren’t going to be carrying it.

That said, big stores are all over the place and can usually be accessed easily while out and about and tend to have pretty decent selections.  This doesn’t balance out the negatives though.

With independent stores, my only big general complaint is that they tend to be out of the way and kind of hard to find.  With regard to specific stores, I’ve run into a couple that seemed to cater almost exclusively to English majors and snobs.  The only other big problem that I can think of is a limited selection.

The problems with the smaller independent places balance out though, at least in my mind.  Sure they have less to choose from, but many will gladly order something for you or give you a heads up when they get a copy of it.  The stores that I’ve found have, with exception of the two that catered to English majors, were clean and well lit and staffed with friendly knowledgeable people who seemed to enjoy reading quite a bit.

What do you guys think?  The big stores with their greater selections or the independent places with their awesome staff people?

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