One of my favorite bookstores anywhere in the world is the Strand Bookstore in Union Square NYC. For years I've made a habit of dropping by any time I visited the city and when I moved here three years ago the realization that I could just get on a subway train and go anytime I wanted was... well, awesome.
And one of my favorite things about the Strand, that made it different from other awesome bookstores, was their "review books" section in the basement, where they had shelves and shelves of half-price new-release hardcovers. I would go in sometimes just to browse that particular section, being as it was a curated and discounted selection of new releases. Located in a corner of the basement level, it was a quiet break from the bustle of the new-books floor above and always promised some treasures.
But now it's gone. I went in to the Strand the other day to sell some books and after getting my freshly-minted store credit slip went downstairs to see if there was anything great to take home. And it was gone! Now over the years the section has become smaller- two aisles at last count, down from four in my time coming to the store. But now it's gone. I asked at the information desk if it had moved (it has in the past), and the bookseller told me the books were still in the store but "reallocated" to their subject sections. So the Strand still has its half-price new releases, but they're all mixed in all over the store now.
I'm sure this integrated arrangement makes more sense for actually selling the books, which is after all the point. In the past, if you went in looking for certain new releases in hardcover, you might not find them in the general new-release section or in the fiction section dominated by older releases and paperbacks, and you might think the Strand doesn't stock them. The review section was dominated by popular fiction and general nonfiction, books that some readers might not associate with the store. And since most people don't ask if they can't find something, and you might never think to look in the review section, you might just assume you're out of luck. Now, it's right there in alphabetical order. Makes sense, right?
But it also makes me sad, because the review section was, like I said, one of things that made the Strand special, and I'll miss it.