Organizing Principles

If you take a look at the pictures of the store (click on them for bigger versions, otherwise you’ll need a magnifying glass) you’ll see that most of our inventory is trade paperbacks/graphic novels and is racked on bookshelves by genre. Meanwhile the new monthly issues are organized alphabetically on black shelves toward the back of the shop.

Personally, there wasn’t much question in my mind about how to organize the majority of our inventory. One of the founding principles of the store is to create a comfortable environment that is familiar to anyone who has set foot in a bookstore. Part of that is organizing the stock not by publisher but by genre. Does Image or Vertigo really mean anything to someone whose exposure to comics is primarily through mass media? There are obvious pros and cons to genre racking (take a look at Isotope’s Great Retail Experiment and Johanna Draper Carlson’s response for a quick analysis of both) but the primary concern of any organizational system is ease of use.

While some would say that the customer we should make the process easiest for is the customer who comes in most often and spends the most money, I don’t know that I believe that. I’ve always felt that any organizational system that’s worth its salt should be designed to be new user friendly. Those who are familiar with the product understand how to find it, even if it’s not quite in the place they’re used to. Someone who knows that they enjoyed Sin City in the movie theater, however, likely has no idea that Dark Horse published those series. They could probably guess pretty quickly, though, that Sin City could be found in the mystery/crime section or the action section. While there may be some discussion as to the correct section, it wouldn’t take nearly as long to check those two areas as it would the entire store.

There’s also a train of thought that the books should be organized by creator, and while I understand the impulse, its not one that I’m a fan of. Because of the collaborative nature of so much sequential art, its role as entertainment can pretty easily be considered as an amalgam of books and film/TV. As such, I’ve taken as many cues as possible from book and film/TV retailers. Therefore our sections break down by genre and then title. Because I’m not going to be the one who decides whether V for Vendetta goes under M or L.


Post a Comment

<< Home