How to Organize a Bookstore

When we opened up our first bookstore in New Hope PA, it was before I had any kids, so I put the “Horror” section right above the “Parenting” section. 

It wasn’t what I thought about parenting, mind you, but I thought it was funny.  Most browsers didn’t notice it, but I would hear occasional snorts and whispers.  Sometimes people thought it was an accidental placement, which made it even funnier to them.

I’d like to take you on a behind the scene tour of Classics in Trenton, NJ.


I put the Christian section right up front near the door, the spot most likely to be the target of a shoplifter.  My theory is that if somebody steals a Bible, they’ll run home, read that stealing is a sin and bring the book right back.

In addition, the Christian section, the Islamic section, the Jewish section and the section of Buddhism and Hinduism are spread around the store as if to prevent any sectarian tensions.  This arrangement was accidental, but since there hasn’t been any religious conflict in my store, it seems like a good plan.

The Bathroom

You can shop in the bathroom too.  In this special themed section, you can find Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader, How to Sh*t in the Woods and Going Abroad: Toilets in Foreign Countries

The Jeff Edelstein Science Fiction Section

Trentonian columnist Jeff Edelstein advocated separating the “Science Fiction” and “Fantasy” sections, while most American bookstores keep them combined.  Jeff had strong feelings that one of these sections shouldn’t be mingled with the other “inferior” one, and so we divorced them.

Apparently, combining the two sections is unique to the United States.  According to SF author Robert Sawyer, it is the fault of “Donald A. Wollheim, a science fiction editor, (who) brought out the first U.S. edition of what was then a unique work, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.  If someone else had scooped that up first, the two genres would never have been co-mingled.”

To read more about the history of the Jeff Edelstein Science Fiction Section, visit’s%20stories/17841067.txt?viewmode=default


I have customers who love finding The Perfect Storm (the true story of a terrible storm that swamps the crew of the Andrea Gail) in the “Travel” section.


Comment and let me know what other changes I should make.  “Horror” and “Parenting?”  “True Crime” and “Politics?”  “Etiquette” and “Television Political Commentary?”