At The Mall
On Black Friday I ventured out on the Des Moines (Iowa) Area Rapid Transit (more commonly referred to as the Des Moines public bus system) and visited for the first time, the Jordan Creek Mall in the town of West Des Moines. Not surprisingly the place was mobbed with shoppers. The bus dropped me and a few other perspective shoppers at a huge immense structure called the Century Theater.
Finding Barnes & Nobles
From there I ventured through the mall, which is so big that it could probably hold a complete, modern-day Iowa farm, until I located the Barnes & Noble bookstore. After consuming a rather large chocolate chip cookie, I wandered through the vast array of aisles with a fresh cup of Americano coffee in hand. With a good dose of coffee and chocolate I was able to check-up on all the new releases and what was selling in the well-stocked chain outlet. Though I saw numerous titles that I would have enjoyed bringing home, I left the store empty-handed (except of course for the coffee).
The East Village of Des Moines
Not far away from West Des Moines is the state capitol. Just across the river from the downtown area of Des Moines sits an older section of town called the East Village. The area is only several blocks wide and not much longer, but since it sits in the lee side of the state capitol building, the place receives a lot of visitors. The businesses are mostly restaurant and retail, including a small book store called Plain Talk.
Even though the place is not much bigger than a hole in the wall, the interior manages to have on display a good number of new and used books. They also sell coffee (what bookstore doesn’t these days) and by the looks of things are in the infant stage of starting a restaurant on the second floor. I enjoyed the coffee very much and ended up purchasing a used copy of “Sun Storm” by Asa Larsson (no kin to Stieg, at least as far as I know).
Comparing the Twain
I guess you might say that in their own two ways, these places are both survivors of the changing world of selling books. Barnes & Nobles is still around because of its early awareness of the importance of selling e-books. This includes the development of the Nook, an e-book reading device that is successfully competing with other contraptions of a similar nature.
On the other hand, the small “Ma & Pa” operation is hanging in there because of its unique location and its ability to diversify. For the time being, many booksellers are holding their own, even in the present topsy-turvey market, but who knows what the future may bring.