Monday, January 14, 2013

Where Barbie spins with Spiderman

Just about in the geographic center of the children's section, it stands immovable. (We know. We've tried.) It takes up barely a square foot, but it's so magnetic, I'm surprised the Magnatabs have never spontaneously flown into its orbit.

The spinner.

Brookline Booksmith holds many spinners (Card & Gift people, I don't know how you do it), but this particular spinner bears an amazing number of movie and TV tie-in books per vertical square foot. There's the odd eight-by-eight reformat of a "real" picture book - Robert Munsch's work comes to mind - but the vast majority of these "picturebacks" consist of a probably quickly written text illustrated with images from the movie or show. 

The spinner can be a source of grumbling. When we loaded its contents onto two carts this week to correct its inventory, the other booksellers in the back were treated to more than a little snark.

But as I try to remind myself often, the spinner is there for some good reasons. For one thing, the books are easily affordable. They give parents a chance to say, "We're here for Uncle Horatio's birthday gift, but if you're good, you can pick out a book for yourself." For another, books with familiar characters send kids a message that I'm constantly saying is important: that reading can be about anything, even things you think are really cool, even Lego Star Wars.

Would I like to find fewer of these books on the floor? Of course, and that's partly for safety's sake. They're a bit like banana peels; they're slippery and, well, I'll leave it at that.

But I love all our sections.

Really. I do.

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