I’ve been to two different Borders book stores in the last two weeks — one in Maryland, one in Pennsylvania — and both have been in a state of upheaval. Books are stacked on the floor. Some sections feature only bare shelves, while others are packed so tightly together there’s barely room to turn around.
And yet, I don’t mind the mess a bit, because it appears that Borders is shuffling itself around and reorganizing its layout to make things easier to find. The biggest improvement? By far, it’s the addition of a Biography section.
Currently, Borders shelves its biographies in other areas it deems relevant, even when that makes things even more confusing. Presidential biographies are shelved in U.S. History. Jock bios go in Sports, while celebrity bios are in with the Film and Music section, where their placement alongside Piano for Dummies and The Art of The Matrix makes the section one huge non-sequitur.
Worse — and I’ll admit I’m biased in this — biographies of writers are placed in the Literature section, where they are then shelved by the name of the biographer, rather than the subject. If you’re looking for my Washington Irving bio, for example, it’s in the literature section — which is mostly fiction — and shelved alphabetically under my last name, rather than with Irving’s works. It really doesn’t make much sense; it’s a non-intuitive spot, and any casual browsers of Irving’s works are unlikely to find it (though my daughter, to her immense credit, any time she spots my book at Borders, usually puts it with Irving’s works and always turns it “face out,” as she expertly says).
The addition of this new section alone is a welcome change at Borders. And in the Shuffling The Deck Chairs Department, I’m hoping that this reorganization means Borders has been able to hold off the bankruptcy that’s been rumored since last year. Anyone heard anything?