Barnes and Noble decided to give the horror genre its own tiny, tiny niche.
Let’s talk about the biggest book superstore left in the midst of America’s digital revolution: Barnes and Noble. Barnes and Noble has a history of offering great books and frequent discounts, just like Tom Hanks’ store in that one rom-com. Yet, their horror section, up until recently, did not exist. It had “thrillers” and “mysteries,” sure. But an actual section dedicated to one of literature’s most prolific genres? Nope. Now, things have changed.
When you walk into a Barnes and Noble and inhale the sweet scent of stale Starbucks pastries, you know you’re in for an awesome day of horror perusing. So you walk back to the newly anointed horror section. Your eyes scan the tiny, two bookcase wide display and see one name filling up half of the genre.
Stephen King. His entire catalogue. What does this mean for Barnes and Noble’s new horror section, and why might it not be the best idea to only have two bookcases, one of which contains one author alone?
Stephen King isn’t the Only Horror Writer
Stephen King is an amazing writer with a real grasp for character development and worldbuilding. He has dominated the horror sphere with his movie adaptations and epic sized horror greats like It and The Stand. There is nothing wrong with including all of his work in a new horror section that may not draw in a typical horror crowd anyway. He is popular, and people know his name.
Yet, he’s also released some not so great works, including Insomnia and a lot of his short story pantheon. In fact, he’s also written some questionable representations of women in his novels as well. So while he has great and notable work, does he really deserve to crowd the whole horror section at this big box store?
To top it off, since this is a new section, shouldn’t there be an accurate representation of the genre’s depth and range? Bentley Little (The Store), Dean Koontz (Odd Thomas), and Clive Barker (The Hellraiser Series) are sparsely represented despite being big names in horror literature. Horror as a genre is resurging, so a store wishing to showcase a genre should accurately depict it.
Barnes and Noble Needs More
There isn’t any way around it. Two bookcases are not enough. The amount of fantastic horror literature out there makes it inexcusable for a big box store to disclude some of its fine works because it doesn’t have a movie and big name attached to it. Plenty of obscure authors find good niches in the science fiction and mystery sections.
A good solution would be to give horror a whole row of bookcases. There is plenty of content to fill it with. Fans of horror would feel more inclined to take a trip to Barnes and Noble. The monetary gain the company could receive outweighs any forseeable drawbacks because horror literature and horror culture is has a steady, loyal fanbase. Schuler’s Books, a midwestern chain, has a wider section of horror novels by far, despite lacking the sales Barnes and Noble rakes in. There is no excuse for ignoring horror staples.
Yes, Stephen King is a phenomenal author. But does that mean he should dominate an already unfair quantity of horror selections?
By John Castro