Barnes & Noble Image

Hours: 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Thu., 9 a.m.-11 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Sun.

Depending on your perspective, Barnes & Noble represents the crass commercialization of the book business or a nice way to kill a couple hours on a Sunday afternoon. For those who take the former position, the emergence of B&N and other big-box book retailers in the 1990s signaled the beginning of the end of many small, independent bookstores (Amazon signaled the end of the end). For those who take the latter view, it's hard to argue with the selection: Even in the age of Amazon's cut-rate prices and digital previews, we still crave the experience of picking a book up and thumbing through it. And Barnes & Noble has a lot of books to browse. Which means, particularly if you're looking for a niche publication, a Native American poetry compilation say, you're probably more likely to find it at a big box than a smaller store. More reasons to go: An adjacent Starbucks. A massive wall of magazines. More reasons not to: A completely uninspired children's section. The blank-eyed look clerks give you when you ask for John Dos Passos. The constant hawking of the $25 annual membership Barnes & Noble card, which is a good deal if you only read paperback bestsellers and many times more complicated than Amazon's regular loss-leading discounts.

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