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January 28, 2005

Bookstore Shopping: Let the Games Begin

Posted by admin

Yesterday I went shopping at Borders on 57th Street for a present for my son who turns 15 today. He wanted Season Three of Friends on DVD and a copy of THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME. Sounded pretty easy to me. I figured I would hit two aisles, select a couple of cards and on to the register.

Ha! What was I thinking? I was thinking logically and one cannot shop in a chain bookstore this way.

I went to the DVD section. Found TV. Found TV Comedy. Sounds right. I see a huge selection of shows I never knew were on DVD (okay, I live a sheltered bookish life). I paw through them and find one copy of Friends Season Five and no others. Of course, once I find the one copy, I am convinced I missed the others and paw through the entire rack again. No luck.

I grab Season Five, start thinking of a little explanation of why I am getting five, not three, to tell my son, and go to look for the book in the paperback section.

As I wander through the store on the way to paperbacks (and suppress the endless signage to buy four DVDs and get one free though I admit they had me thinking about this for a while), I see a HUGE display of television show DVDs. HUGE. With MANY shows that were not displayed in the DVD/TV section. There they have EVERY SEASON of Friends. I drop Season Five there, pick up Season Three, get that warm tingly feeling one gets when mission is accomplished, and then trek off to find the book. Now, I wonder WHERE will this be.

I cannot remember the author's name and I see everything is shelved by author name. It's Mark....Heller? Keller? Haddon? (Okay, I admit it, I am really bad at remembering the names of books and authors.) I grab my cellphone to call the office to ask someone there (I know I can just find a directory in the store, but somehow this seems easier. Of course, there is no salesperson around to ask.) The cellphone blinks "low battery" and the call cannot be initiated.

So, I think. Where would this book be shelved? I remember what the cover looks like so I do a quick surveillance of the paperback shelves. Do not spot it. Hmmmm...I know. I will go to the display tables! Sure enough there is terrific inventory of the book on a display table.

I grab one, find a card with a dog on it for my younger son that professes brotherly love (he will love the dog; loathe the message) and a killer card with...a lighthouse on it! My older son LOVES lighthouses. I feel like that moment where the announcer yells, "she shoots; she scores." Of course, since this NEVER happened to me on the basketball court, this is my version of scoring big.

I hit the register where there is one person ringing up and one person wrapping an amazingly big order. You can imagine the line.

While I wait on line I conceive The Bookstore Challenge. We start with 16 contestants and bring them to a chain bookstore. We give them a list of what to buy. We give them 15 minutes to find it in the store. The winner becomes --- a salesperson at the chain. Maybe even a manager. If they can figure it out, they can stock those shelves.

BTW...I am feeling rather guilty about one thing in all of this. When I put the Season Five copy of Friends on the stand-alone display this meant there are NO Friends DVDs at all in the DVD/TV/COMEDY section. There is a part of me (the too much do-right Catholic school training part of me)that wants to march over there today and take one of each season and move it to DVD/TV/Comedy. Another part says --- let the games begin! Another part says ---!