So I was running some errands last night, and popped into the local Books-A-Million store. I tend not to frequent the store because this particular outlet has notoriously bad organization skills. Not only are books regularly misplaced, by I often find whole sections that look like somebody just threw the books on the shelves in whatever haphazard fashion seemed to be quickest at the time. Consequently, books are ALWAYS out of order and just because you don't see something on the shelf where it's supposed to be doesn't mean it's not in the store. Not surprisingly, the staff are generally little help in these cases since they can only direct you to where any given book SHOULD be.
But I was browsing the manga section, surprised that it was in reasonable order and, at the end of the manga section before the marvel and DC graphic novels are the actual comic books. They were mostly current, maybe about a month behind what you can get in your LCS, but one book stood out: Four #30. If you don't recall, it was the last issue of marvel's attempt at pushing the Fantastic Four into their "Marvel Knights" line. (Courtesy of Bill Jemas.) Personally, I thought the series was terrible from the get-go and I was genuinely surprised to see it last that long.
Here's the thing, though: the last issue came out in May 2006, nearly a year and a half ago! That means that whoever's been restocking the comic racks is only pulling down issues as the new ones come out. And NO ONE has given the issue enough of a look to realize that it's the only periodical on that rack that has not had a new issue come out. Now, if it were buried towards the back, I might understand, but this was sitting front and center with the whole cover in plain view. Several copies were left and, I suspect, will continue to sit there for some time.
Another thing I noticed was that the store has a hidden, second section for graphic novels! Nestled between the science fiction and mystery racks was a whole shelving unit with comic related material on it. Not necessarily comics that would make sense there either, but an eclectic mix of manga, independent, and mainstream titles. They had Blankets next to Bleach next to Civil War: Front Line. Seriously -- no exaggeration! As near as I could tell, there was no real rhyme or reason to why these books were singled out, and not kept with the other comics/manga section, but it was clearly not accidental as they had a shelf sign labeling the section as "Graphic Novels."
In fact, the only comics that I thought would've made sense there -- namely, well-known science fiction properties like Star Wars -- were absent. One had to walk to literally the other side of the story to find those. That I found this stack at all was entirely by chance, as I happened to wander down the aisle quite aimlessly.
Another thing I found curious was that this section had a still-shrink-wrapped copy of Lost Girls. That it was with the other comics wasn't so surprising, but I was struck that they carried a copy at all! The store has tendency to cater to a more religious crowd, and even has an entire section devoted to Bibles. I suppose I shouldn't be overly surprised, as the store also carries Playboy and Penthouse but it very much seemed like a book that they would actively choose not to stock. I can see people coming in and requesting Playboy, but I can't imagine there's that much of a drive for people to track down Lost Girls. I certainly have no evidence to back this up, but I suspect anyone with any interest in it whatsoever has either already picked it up, or has half a dozen other venues to purchasing before they'd think to wander into their local Books-A-Million.
I also noted that they had three copies of the new Don Martin collection. In a similar vein, I'd be surprised to see that many people walk in to a local Books-A-Million, in search of that volume.
This particular store is only a year or two old, but it just seems to be run extraordinarily poorly. I have to wonder how long this brick-and-mortar store will last, because it's almost certainly being propped up financially by the larger chain and/or online sales.