Saturday, December 12, 2009

Challenger Comics

I've been noticing something recently. Every day I read articles about the death of the printed word and how books are disappearing. Yet, here in Chicago at least, I've noticed something strange. It seems that there are new comic books stores opening up all over town. Comic books at least seem more popular than ever. Maybe it's the recent slew of superhero movies?

I think the real reason is that right now there is somewhat of a comic "renaissance" going on. Comics are better drawn and better written now then perhaps at any time in history. The plots and stories are so much more interesting and well developed compared to the comics that were available with I was a kid in the 60's and 70's. There is perhaps a danger in that many comics are more "mature" now and feature more adult oriented plots. But both Marvel and DC use a rating system on their comics that is much like the rating systems kids are used to with video games. Comics are rated as E for everyone, T for teen, and T+ for more mature comics.

I've visited a number of the new comic book stores but there is one store in particular that stands out and that is Challenger Comics.

Challenger Comics Website

I think libraries and librarians can learn a lot from this site. It is very well designed and uses a number of Web 2.0 features.

The site features a web cam so you can see what's going on in the store while it's open.

The site also highly encourages customer interaction through the use of message boards and reviews. They've already started to develop a strong web based community that also goes into the store.

The site also features links to all of the most popular Web 2.0 sites such as Facebook and Twitter where Challenger Comics also has a presence.

There is an event calendar that is prominently displayed that is constantly updated with new events. At Challenger Comics they have weekly readings for both kids and adults and other special events as well. I've never seen a comic book store with so many events. They have several things going on every week.

There is a link to sign up for a weekly newsletter that arrives via email. An email then arrives each week with details of upcoming events and all the new releases for that week along with recommendations and reviews.

All in all a site that is very well designed, very user friendly, and obviously helps Challenger Comics do what they want to do, sell more comics.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Funny Library story

So I came into work today and got a doozy from the very first patron who walked up to the desk.

She handed me a piece of paper and said her son was looking for this book and could I help her find it for him. "The Game" by Neil Strauss.

I went to our catalog and did a search for the author as I thought there were probably too many titles out there with "The Game" in the title. I quickly got a list of the books by Neil Strauss in our system and saw the game.

One of the "habits" I've gotten into as a reference librarian is to always repeat the title when I find it to make sure I'm on the same page as the patron. When I see a full title that includes a colon I repeat the full title to make sure I'm getting the correct book for the patron.

So in this case, out of habit, I automatically started to say "The Game : Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists".

As the words slipped off my tongue, my brain started to catch up, and something seemed odd about this particular situation.

The woman in front of me blushed, gasped, and said, "Oh my God, is that what my 19 year old son wants to read?!"

I couldn't help but laugh and said, "well... if he was 13 you might have a problem on your hands! When I was 19 I might have wanted to check out this book myself. Luckily I'm very happily married so I don't think I need it at this point!"

She laughed as well and I asked her if she would like me to put a hold on it for her son as we didn't have a copy in our library. She said, "Certainly not! I'm not going to get this book for him." She left pretty quickly and seemed embarrassed about the whole thing. For me it was one the highlights of my week!