Last week, I visited my local Books-A-Million. Until Borders closed in Fall 2011, my local bookstore always was Borders. The closest one was right across the highway from my house. It was a less than 5 minute drive to get there. I have great memories of spending time there over the years with my sisters, my parents, and even friends. Borders truly was my local bookstore. Even though it was a national chain, it had a homey feel that I loved. I just don't get the same feel from Barnes and Noble. Sure, I can find the books I am looking for, and there is a large selection of items to browse through, but Barnes and Noble feels a lot less personal and a lot more like a big corporation that happens to sell books. Ever since Borders closed, I've been trying to find another bookstore that replicated the feel I got there. That led me to search for other, less well-known bookstores in my area.
In my search, I came across Books-A-Million. I had heard of this bookstore before, on line from people living in other states. However, until very recently, I did not know that there were any in New Jersey. In fact, I first learned that there was a Books-A-Million near me when one of the Borders nearby got bought by Books-A-Million. That's not the store I visited, but that is how I learned that there even was a Books-A-Million in New Jersey.
The Books-A-Million closest to my house is actually located inside a mall. It's not a stand alone bookstore, so it is a lot smaller, but it still had all of the books I was looking for. I was pleasantly surprised to see that nearly all of the space inside was taken up by books, save for one small wall of magazines and one rack of calendars. There were no puzzles or games, which seem to take up a lot of space at other bookstores. I loved that I walked into a bookstore and was greeted by books. It's disappointing that a lot of bookstores feel like they need to sell other things to draw people in.
Since the store was very small, and I went on a weekday afternoon, there were only two employees working both the cash registers and the floor. However, instead of frazzled, overworked employees like one might expect in this situation, both were actually very friendly and willing to help me. I even had a nice conversation with one of the women about the cover of a book I was interested in!
Books-A-Million definitely had the homey feel that I loved about Borders and feel is missing at Barnes and Noble. Though there is a Barnes and Noble closer to my house, in the future, I envision myself visiting Books-A-Million to purchase my books when I can!