On the heels of the closing of several prominent independent bookstores, Paul Collins asks in the Voice Literary Supplement, "Do bookstores have a future?" I haven't made my way through the entire article, "Chain Reaction," yet, but the following caught my eye:
Like milk in a grocery store, the kids' section of a Barnes & Noble is almost always placed far from the entrance. Why?
Simple: B&N children's sections are a customer magnet, and possibly the most child-friendly and parentally designed spaces in the history of retailing. There are low shelves, allowing good sight lines so that you can see your kid. There's carpeting for inevitable toddler face-plants. A train table to play at. Comfy chairs for the parents. A single exit in sight of those chairs, so that your kid can't bolt. Sit in the Barnes & Noble kids' section, and their populist rhetoric makes sense. Some indie bookstores are not just figuratively exclusionary: If you have a stroller or a wheelchair, you literally cannot get inside some of them.