Saturday, November 08, 2003

Bookstore Watch... 

Well, yesterday I continued my search to find the first volume of Please Save My Earth, which led me into a couple of shops I haven't been to in a while. I finally found PSME at B&N, so I am one happy camper. :) Here is how things seem to be shaping up at the various stores in my neck of the woods.

Waldenbooks - Wow, I wouldn't have thought it possible, but they actually expanded their selection again! They now have 6 bookcases (30 shelves) devoted to digest-sized books. This was 90% manga, but I also saw other stuff. Oni Press titles (Blue Monday and Courtney Crumrin with Vol. 1-2 of each). They had the Kim Possible books, Jimmy Corrigan, and some other stuff I'm forgetting. Also, it seems like my fear of DC dropping the ball was unfounded. They had about five copies of the first Elfquest digest (Wolfriders). This pretty much constituted one whole side of an aisle.

Wait, there's more. They had one case for bigger graphic novels (4 shelves). They not only had the various Sandman hardcovers, but also the whole Sandman series (including the new version of #1). There was transformers and marvel and various other stuff, including Blankets, a volume of Queen and Country, and others. The large color Fist of the North Star manga was in here as well. This was on one of the ends of the row. There was also a spinner rack of floppy comics there, as well, with Archie, Tsunami stuff, etc.

Did you think that was it? On the other end, was another case (I think 4 shelves). This was How to Draw Manga books, anime and manga art books, and the large Quimby Mouse book. This also had some manga box sets stacked on top.

Wait for it... There was yet another bookcase. This one had more manga box sets (BTW, I recomment that Dragon Ball 1-7 set for $55. This is the early stuff back when DB was more about having fun). Not only that, but anime sound tracks, anime dvds, some action figures (including some fun Tim Burton characters), and two t-shirts. There was also some posters in boxes right next to this, and a metal rack with a couple more action figures and a bunch more of the Trigun manga.

Needless to say, I am very impressed. Outside of the Modern Myths comic shop, this is certainly the largest selection of manga in the area, and they aren't a total slouch in other areas either (they even had NewType USA in the magazine section). As an aside, it was actually kind of crowded because there was five teenage boys flipping through all the manga and discussing it. Several were latino and would occationally break into Spanish. =) It was pretty fun to see so many kids into the stuff and arguing over stuff like how Chobits is prounced..heh

Barnes & Noble - Unfortunately, about the only thing Waldenbooks didn't have was PSME, so off we went to B&N. I hadn't been there in a while and was in for a pleasant suprise. After getting up the escalator, and looking to the right, the first thing I saw was two big cardboard displays of manga (each with a 3x3 grid of books). One of them was decked out in flowers and such (and a tagline I can't remember) and was just comics for girls from Viz. Right in the center was PSME! Next to it was a stand from Tokyopop with a variety of different titles.

Next I looked at the section itself, and it has expanded since last time. It had two and a half bookcases of comics, but these are very very wide cases, so there was quite a lot of books there. One of the cases was basically devoted to manga, along with some runoff on one of the others. They had a decent selection of that, but even more of the non-manga titles, which was nice to see. Not only was there sandman and marvel/dc stuff, but Tin-Tin, Blankets, Bone, Jason and the Argobots, and all kinds of other stuff that my mind is blanking on right now. They also had several copies of the first Elfquest digest book. Basically B&N has the biggest selection of indy stuff outside of a comic shop (and maybe the best depending on your local shops).

As an aside, I also picked up a cool magazine while I was in there called Giant Robot, which is an Asian culture mag. It looks very cool, with such topics as a Rubik's Cube champ, giant flower sculptures in Japan, how to make mochi, a profile of the Lone Wolf & Cub Creator, manga and anime reviews, and lots of other fun stuff. I recommend checking this out if you like your reading a little bit off-beat. Seems like a decent deal at $5, considering how much magazines are these days. Also, Fantasy Worlds #3 was a magazine Mom got mostly for the LotR stuff in it, but also has stories on Frazetta, Dave McKean (of Sandman fame), David Eddings, Terry Pratchett, the new Peter Pan movie (thank goodness Pan looks like how he should look). A bit steep at $8, but a lot of interesting stuff in there.

Media Play - I won't go into too too much detail since I've talked about this before. Just to recap, they have an asian section with 4 cases of manga, dvds, vhs, posters, t-shirts, figures, and sound tracks. They also two cases of american stuff. I'd say the american selection is about on par or perhaps slightly weaker than Waldenbooks. MP has more space, but seems less full and more titles facing forward. MP also seems to be the only one of the three that carries Shonen Jump that I could see (unless they had already sold out). Oh, and they also tend to put manga volumes on the sides of bookcases in other areas, like some shoujo in the romance novel section, which is a good idea IMO.

So, there you have it. It seems like all three stores are still expanding their selections. Waldenbooks impressed me in terms of selection of manga and just how organized and clean everything was. I think when the shelves are full and spines face outward, things tend to get less messy. But still impressive for a store in a mall, and they also seem to be trying to get other media in there. B&N seems to treat the GNs as just another section for books and has a lot of literary titles. Media Play lives up to being a media store with having lots of other merchandise surrounding the GNs. Western Mass is certainly not hurting for GNs in chain stores...

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