Friday, February 11, 2011

Paranormal, Fantasy and Adventure, or Fiction?

Have you walked through the Teen section at your local Barnes and Noble lately? If not you might want to go take a look. It's a little ... different.

It used to be there was a Teen section. And in it there were books for teens. At some point the section grew and they divided it out into sub sections, like Teen Fiction and Teen Non-Fiction (even though sometimes Fiction books took over the Non-Fiction section--gasp).

(Photo lovingly borrowed from Dustin and Neesha Save the World)
Then it got broken down even more. They added Teen Inspiration and Teen Fiction was divided out into Teen Fiction and Teen Series (which begs the question: When does a series become a series? The last time I was in a store with those divisions, Oh. My. Gods. was in the Teen Series section and Goddess Boot Camp was in the plain ol' Teen Fiction.)

Reading myself to death
(Photo courtesy of StayProud)

Now Barnes and Noble is following the Borders model and dividing Teen Fiction down even further. When the news broke, they announced they would be breaking out into Teen Fiction and Teen Paranormal Romance and I thought, Okay. I like my books hanging out with the other teen paranormal romances because my bright pink and blue covers stand out against all the black. Readers will notice my books.

(Photo stolen linked from The Damnsel)
Yesterday I went into a Barnes and Noble for the first time in months (Dear Stillwater, Please get a Barnes and Noble.) and I checked out the teen section. Of course. Well now they've broken Teen Fiction down even further into three sections: Teen Fiction, Teen Fantasy and Adventure, and Teen Paranormal. Question: Why does Teen Fantasy and Adventure would need to be separated from Teen Paranormal?

I heart Barnes and Noble and they are my Big Chain of choice, but I have to wonder if this subdividing is what's best for the readers. I use Alyson Noel as the ultimate example. In the new section divisions her first few books--straight contemporary teen fiction--are completely isolated from her super-successful Immortals series. I have to think that at some of her readers would crossover from one to the other. But that's just me..

What do you think? Do the separations make sense or do they leave you scratching your head?



Kathryn Packer Roberts said...

I think it's a good thing. This way you spend less confusion finding the kind of book you want. But then, maybe some books will go unnoticed if a Teen decides, for example, that they don't want to try non-fiction. (That's my inner teen talking, though. Maybe others are different).

Jessica said...

I like it sometimes, but what has me scratching my head is that when I go to some Borders, they will have one book in the series in what I dubbed "fiction" section and then another book in the series will be in the "paranormal" section.

In theory I like the idea because I would really only go to the paranormal side, but when someone doesn't stock the shelves right, then I get confused or really irritated because I'm usually looking for a new release! :)

Lindsay said...

I like the new layout. I work at B&N and found the old layout to be frustrating. That whole fiction and fiction series thing just didn't make sense and made it harder to find books sometimes-- especially since many of the books in the fiction section were a series and were not placed in the series section.

Because of the new layout, they've actually expanded the section to almost double it's original size. Which means more exposure. This also has created more book bays, or in other words, more faced out books. Everyone always looks at the faced out books first. Why? Because covers sell.

The sub divisions also make it easier for me as a fantasy and adventure lover to find books. I don't have to sift through romance books anymore looking for a good adventure. However, more then once, as I was walking to and from the adventure section my eyes would catch on a cover from a different section and after reading what it was about, ended up buying it too.

Like you said though, sometimes authors get split up and that it's a good thing. I once found a Vampire Diaries book shelved on the other side of the isle in the fiction section, completely separate from the others-- and that was where the company said it should be. I think it's category has been changed since, but that couldn't have helped the book when it was first released.

Sharon said...

I don't visit the teen section often, but it looks like it would be helpful.

Ashleigh said...

I think the Teen section may be small enough that they don't need divisions past regular fiction and fantasy. But with the adult fiction I get so frustrated running around trying to find my Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy books. Because no one can decide what section they belong in. Which is why I kind of love Powells. The actually have a specific Paranormal Roamcne section. doesn't solve all my problems, but it's a start

Sharon S. said...

that is way to much division. So many books can be put into the paranormal or fantasy. You have to look up the author first to see where they are shelved. The adult shelving system has the same problems. I don't know where to look! . If they are going to divide so much they need to have a lot of computers around for patrons to look things up.

Sara M said...

I tend to shop at Borders more than B&N, and the one thing I have noticed there is that they have a weird way of deciding when a YA novel is Fantasy/Scifi/Paranormal. I often have to go to the Contemporary Teen Fiction shelves to find books that I would definitely shelve as Paranormal. Some examples are Firespell/Hexbound by Chloe Neill and Rachel Vincent's Soul Screamers series (although the latest book is now in the Paranormal section). Maybe it has to do with what publisher the novels come from? I don't know. But I personally like the different sections. Romance and Fantasy/SciFi aren't mixed together, and they're both essentially adult novels. So why shouldn't the teen novels be treated the same way.

Merrie Destefano said...

I must confess that I have a hard time finding the YA books I want at B&N. I don't like the way everything is organized. BUT I do think that what they are doing now is a good sign. It means that YA is growing (YAY) and that the folks at B&N don't think this is as just a trend. They must be seeing it as a legitimate growing genre that needs to be examined and organized. And they may be purposely breaking up authors' books into different sections to cause the potential buyer to shop longer. Thanks for the great post!

Becky LeJeune said...

I don't like the division at all. As you mentioned, it breaks up books by authors who write multiple sub-categories, and I'll go one further by saying that if something is mis-shelved (not unheard of) you probably won't be able to figure out where to find it whereas the old system would have it simply alphabetical or in series.

The assumption that folks are only interested in one category of books is now sort of being forced. With one broader section, browsing is encouraged, and I personally find more that piques my interest.

nymfaux said...

I like anything that leads to more books and more shelf space!!!--Personally, I do prefer an author's books to be grouped together, because generally if I like someone, I will grab everything they've ever written.

It's not a super-big deal to me where they are, though, because while I may have no general sense of direction, when I am in a books store, all of a sudden I am a homing pigeon with pinpoint gps.

Jonathan said...

It is an interesting question whether applied to YA books or otherwise. I think it 'can' be helpful but all too often you have books that don't fit neatly into a pigeon-hole and this can be particularly true of books on the urban fantasy/paranormal arc.