I'm no fan of the undying zombie trend, but how can any self-respecting horror fan pass up an anthology called Nights of the Living Dead? Especially when it was co-edited by none other than the Godfather of the modern zombie ghoul, George A. Romero? Add in new stories by favorites like Brian Keene, David J. Schow, John Skipp, Joe R. Lansdale, and Jay Bonansinga, plus new fiction by John Russo and Romero himself, and this book is a dead-brainer.

Of course I could have saved a few bucks by ordering online, and I would have done so with B&N.com, but I felt like reliving that retro feeling of walking into a bookstore and purchasing a book from a real live human being. Besides, too many employees of the USPS seem like they would have a more appropriate position in a cheap-ass zombie movie.

So, to Barnes and Noble brick and mortar I went.

I live closer to one in Hampton, VA, but I was in Newport News this morning. The N.N. store was the first in my area, back in the mid-90's, and I was so glad to have it. I feel the pain of those who lost beloved indie bookstores from big box places like B&N and Borders, but we never had a decent independent store here. Despite the large population, this military and industrial region has never exactly been a bastion of culture.

I used to go to this Barnes and Noble every weekend when it opened. A different time, and a different set of rules in regard to book distribution. Electronic books have been around a long time. As early as nineteen forty-nine, in fact, but they came into forceful prominence with the advent of Amazon's Kindle device. Since then distribution has changed a lot. Maybe no so much for bestsellers, but for a lot of smaller genre writers, you can't find their stuff at the major bookstores.

I weaned off of my regular weekly trips to Barnes and Noble. I don't even go monthly now. In fact, it's quite a bit less often than that. I do continue to buy books, but they are often used, and I can't resist the temptation of the discounts the online stores offer.

I enjoyed walking into that old B&N. It still has loads of junk cluttering the place, and I guess all of those games and calendars and coloring books have helped the ailing corporation stay afloat. Me, I just think of all the shelf space could be devoted to books. But then as far back as I can recall, Barnes and Noble has always been filled with perpetrators.

I enjoyed looking at the magazines. I was more than a bit shocked to see that standbys like Videoscope, Scary Monsters, and Filmfax are still in circulation. Gotta admire these stalwarts for hanging in there. I almost bought one or two, but the truth is, with the internet there is more information about movie readily available than I will ever care to have.

I also saw some other cool stuff. The paperback cover of Grady Hendrix's excellent My Best Friend's Exorcism is ultra cool, and it reminds me of an older trade paperback of Brett McBean's The Last Motel.

I began to look in earnest for Nights of the Living Dead, but I couldn't find it. Surely they stocked a copy of this one...? It wasn't in the general fiction section, and not there in science fiction. I didn't see it in the new publications displays either. WTF. I was thinking that they had done a pretty damned good job of hiding it, when I realized that B&N has a section devoted to anthologies.

For the love of Lovecraft, would it be too much to have a Horror section? Borders had one, as did WaldenBooks and B. Dalton. Sure, it wouldn't be a perfect system, and not all books fall comfortably into one generic categorization, but it would be helpful for those of us who enjoy the dark stuff to be able to waltz up and peruse an area just for us. Chances are we would find something that we hadn't realized was out yet.

But at least I have it, and I plan to dive into the living dead just as soon as I am done the book I am currently reading.

I'm also grateful that, despite predictions, there are still bookstores out there, and still paperbacks to be had. Even if I do have to pay almost twenty bucks to own one.

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