Sunday, October 19, 2008

Dear Barnes & Noble .. what were you thinking????

Dear Barnes & Noble Books in Montrose,

I can't tell you what a "unique" time my youngest son, age 7, and I had at your store a few weeks ago as we joined hundreds of other families in standing in line to meet Mary Pope Osborn, author of the popular Magic Tree House kids series.

While the staff members were courteous and the store crew certainly had an organized plan to get families through the long line in a reasonable amount of time, I have to ask you ... "what were you thinking?"

Follow me here ...

To reiterate .. my son is 7. As in seven years old. As in Tooth Fairy, Santa, and the Easter Bunny. He just lost one of this two front teeth and the other is hanging on for dear life.

Can I tell you how much fun it was to follow your store's flow chart to meet the author? I realize that weaving the line through the book shelves probably leads to additional sales, but did you give any thought to the titles of some of the books you put in front of my child?

For starters, I don't think my son was quite ready for the five minutes we spent in the aisle of teen books for girls. Seems nearly every young lady these days is either a virgin or a vixen. The titles and descriptions were a bit racy to say the least. Not appropriate for my 7-year-old. (I took this photo looking down from the second level as a way of distracting my son from the "teen queen" titles.)

I know the nice yellow Sex for Dummies wasn't quite what I wanted him to see either but there it was turned towards his eye level. My son got a kick out of looking at that one and then giggling.

How to take a Sensual Bath, complete with a provocative photo on the cover, certainly had me pointing my son to focus his eyes straight ahead as well.

Just way too many adult titles throughout the entire path.

Saw several books on accepting the identity of being a lesbian, improving my orgasm, and other prose on body parts that just aren't appropriate titles to show someone who was reading Go! Dog! Go! a short time ago.

Again, knowing that the line of young children would be weaving slowly through these aisles, why did you set it up this way? (Another shot from the second level of the line weaving its way through the aisles)

My son did have a blast with all of the Dummies books. Bible for Dummies. Middle East for Dummies. Organization for Dummies. I get it. My son's 7-year-old friend eventually said, "boy there sure are a lot of dummies in the world!" How right you are young grasshopper!

I did find great humor in some of the sex books being on the same shelf as Bill Clinton's My Life, and there was also great irony in a book about the secrets of anaesthesia on the same shelf with a book titled Am I Really Asleep?

In the Self Help section, my son and I saw a great many books on Depression and Stress Management just above the ones on Happiness. Guess solving the first two lets you move on to the next eh?

I accept that no one put a bookmark to my head forcing me to stay in line. It was my decision. Still, can I tell you how heart breaking it would have been to say "we're not staying" to a young child who had spent a week looking forward to meeting Osborn? All because there was too much eye candy at his eye line?

Just know that I love the store -- always have -- and I'll be back -- and for what it's worth, my son couldn't have been smiling more than when we finally met Osborn for the autograph. (Here's MPO signing my son's book) The journey was just a lot of work on my part to navigate the land mines in front of his eyes.

I realize that none of this was intentional .. I hope you can take this in the tongue-in-cheek manner in which its intended .. but all I ask is that the next time an author of youth books come to town, can you maybe re-work your flow chart so that parents aren't having to explain what Kama Sutra is to their second graders?

And by the way .. the ultimate irony was reaching the front of the line and seeing the mega-$$ author Osborn sitting directly in front of a poster of Death of a Salesman.

Footnote: My apologies for an early draft of this blog post that said "Borders" instead of "Barnes & Noble" .. sometimes I type faster than I proof-read.


vanillacokehead said...

*shaking my head* maybe the manager at the B&N needs to read "Merchandising to Kids for DUMMIES". Idiot. Sorry you went through that, Eric. Hope you addressed it with the store.

Reminds me of how I have to quickly channel surf past the morning infomercials when the title of the show, "SEX TALK" is emblazoned on the screen.

laurac19 said...

I'm with vanillacokehead. There are so many obstacle courses set up in shopping malls, stores, TV channels, etc., that we, as parents, are constantly on our toes to ensure that our young children aren't getting an eyeful.

While I appreciate the humor in which you wrote this post, I sure hope that someone from B&N sees this blog and/or you personally say something to someone there so that this doesn't happen again!!

Anonymous said...

This summer I was in a Books A Million in Florida with my 7 year old son. At the checkout counter there was a book with 3 huge letters across it...S E X. Of course, my son says (loudly, and cluelessly), "SEX? What's SEX?" I thought I was going to die. Everyone else about died laughing. I don't know why that had to be there at the checkout counter...seems totally inappropriate to the huge half naked women on the storefront of Victoria Secrets. Ugh.

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