A brand new Barnes & Noble opened up next to my gym. So naturally I had to check it out after I was done with my workout tonight. It’s a very nice, very big store. Twenty-six thousand square feet, according to the Cat in the Hat who was greeting visitors (he told his interpreter who told me, of course). I made a B-line for the history section. Thankfully, there was a sign on the Civil War section, which I took as a good omen – the Civil War selection at the old area B&N store (which is closing) had been shrinking steadily over the past two years. But when I got there, I found that a total of three shelves was it. And only one book was a new release: the rest were paperbacks (a small consolation: the store carried the magazines for which I write). With the sesquicentennial looming, I’m not sure what this says about the state of things. Is it more indicative of lack of specific interest, or of the state of publishing, or of the social philosophy of the corporation, or of the economy in general? What do you think? Ultimately, it’s about the bottom line. If $40 McFarland paperbacks were flying off the shelves, I’m sure B&N would find room for them.