When Did “Book” Become A Four-Letter Word?

December 10th, 2012

One of my fondest memories from my junior high and high school days was wandering through the stacks of a store that not only sold actual books, but sold nothing but paperback books. Very cool place.

Ah, but those days are long gone.

I received my Barnes & Noble holiday mailer the other day. I’m a member there, and if I’m not getting it on Amazon, I’m probably getting it at Barnes & Noble.

Still and all, it’s discouraging to go into one of their stores and see the square footage provided to books decreasing while the square footage for games and toys continues to increase. Am I in a Barnes & Noble or a Kay Bee?

So: the mailer.

What do the coupons in the mailer feature? Godiva chocolate. Starbucks coffee. Harney & Sons tea. Toys & Games. Books? Well, only by inference: There are coupons to “save 20% on one item.” So to the extent that an “item” could be a book, I suppose books are there.

But am I the only one who finds it odd that the word “book” isn’t  printed at all in a Barnes & Noble mailer? Okay, that’s not precisely right: The word “bookmark” appears once (“Holiday Bookmark just for you!”), because along with the detachable coupons there’s a detachable bookmark.

In other words, B&N is pretty much saying to me: “Okay, if you’re a Luddite  here’s something you can use with those big, clunky paper doorstops, but we really don’t want to sell any more of those things to you. We’d rather you buy a cup of coffee and a Nook.” The Nook occupies a full page of the six-page mailer, though “ebook” isn’t mentioned anywhere, either.

I sure miss The Paperback Bookstore. (That woman behind the register was profoundly creepy, though.)


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