Let me start by saying that my favorite place to begin in Barnes & Noble, Borders when it was around (a moment of silence for the loss of Borders, please), or any chain bookstore is the bargain books. You can find books that have been recently(ish) published, mostly hardcover, for five or six dollars. Most of the books I buy at Barnes & Noble come from the bargain bookshelves. (And I buy them with gift cards. I'm a rather cheap person when it comes to buying new books.)
There comes a time, though, when I have found a book that I want to own, and I'm not willing to wait for it to hit the bargain bookshelves (I will wait for it to come out in paperback though - no $25 hardcovers for me). I enter Barnes & Noble, perfectly willing to pay full price for a new book.
Such was the case last night. I had a list of two books I wanted to buy - Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan (my review here) and Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein (my review coming soon, but you can tell that I loved it by the fact that I was willing to buy it). To top it all off, it was my birthday, so the stakes of finding what I wanted and enjoying my visit were even higher.
I perused the bargain bookshelves first (of course) and found two books I was semi-interested in, but I was soon headed purposefully to the books I had come to buy. Let's just get to the sad bottom line - neither of them were in stock. I looked alphabetically by author, glanced through the shelves of new fiction in case they were still there, and searched the free-standing tables of various topics. Nope. Nowhere to be found, confirmed by the store's computer.
Now don't get me wrong. I love shopping for books. I will enter a bookstore anywhere and anytime, and it's extremely rare that I come out empty-handed. But it's not often that I'm willing to pay full price for a brand-new book. And when I am, I expect the bookstore to have what I'm looking for in stock. Were the books so popular they just flew off the shelves, or did they never have them in the store in the first place? That I don't know. I only know I rather sadly picked up my two bargain books, supplemented them with one my husband would enjoy (like every little boy who grew up to be an engineer, he still loves Legos and books about Legos), and headed to the check-out counter.
I guess in the future, when I'm willing to pay full price, I won't get my hopes up too high.
Has this happened to anyone else? Have you been disappointed in the offerings of your local bookstore? Or do you always walk out with an armful of books, no matter what?