Saturday, April 9, 2011

Thinking bigger

I'm reading an article about someone starting a comic book shop after they created a convention in Florida. Yeah, it makes total sense and is not at all confusing.

The article is saying how the number of comic book shops has dropped in recent years comparing it to Borders closing. I have several problems with this.

Start with Borders. I never cared for their selection. Most people that like bookstores don't like major chains and if they go to a chain they want it to have the book they are looking for. I prefer Barnes & Noble, they just feel nicer. It might help that most BNs have a coffee shop built in and some of the ones near me have a permanent speaker/book signing area. They come off as more of a community gathering area then Borders did. Borders is just a large store that sold books.

Another thing with Borders. I went to our local Borders yesterday to get some clearance books. Everything was 30% off, except for Romance, which was 40% off. They were so overstocked with Romance it wasn't even funny. They had extra sections of Romance set up and had it spilling into other sections. That is why they are going out of business, they don't have books people want to read. I also looked over at the Young Adult section to see what they had left. It was three ten foot long shelves. Harry Potter books go in that section and I think they didn't have room for them. Young Adult is not a small area of book sales, it's very popular. For one I see a lot of people writing it for Nanowrimo.

Don't worry about faux Twilight novels though, they were safely in the Romance section.

Now the comic books shops. I didn't grow up with them. Any of them. The closest was forty-five minutes away in a direction I rarely went (or an hour and a half the other direction). Yes, traditional book stores are now carrying some comic books, but they didn't when I was little, and the chance that they had something that would interest me was incredibly rare. No one I knew in high school was particularly interested in comic books because of this, which is a shame.

What do comic book shops need to do? They need to be more then just a specialized book store. They need to be a community center. When I finally did get out to the one forty-five minutes away I was astounded by the place. For one it was huge, the size of a big box bookstore, but half of it was tables. To place games on. Dungeons and Dragons, Magic the Gathering, Apples to Apples, Solitaire, Chess, GURPS. This are things that require people to come to you, it makes it a community meeting place. Added benefit that they will probably purchase extra cards or dice or expansion packs while they are in the store, which means more money. And when I say they had table I mean twenty tables that could sit eight. They knew they were the only thing for miles and they were prepared for it.

And it works in a bad economy too! They might not buy as much but they will still be there to see the merchandise. They might buy less expensive things but at least you have them in the store.

And I'm not the only one with the community center idea. Libraries are trying to switch from a loan books business plan to a help people with simple tasks.

I suck at closing arguments.

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