I’ve been meaning to mention this for about a year. I remember it every time I go shopping for books on Charing Cross Road, but then forget it by the time I get to a computer.
What happened to Blackwell’s computer books department?
When Blackwell’s first opened their branch on Charing Cross Road (some time in the last five to ten years) they had a great computer books department. The only shops in London that could compete with it were the Waterstones up near the University of London and Foyles. The Waterstones was too far away from all the other bookshops and Foyles… well Foyles was “organised” in such a way that it was impossible to find a book. Blackwell’s fast became the place where I bought most of my computer books.
But about a year ago, their computer book department suddenly lost a third of its shelves. They were given over to business or economics or something like that. And over the following months it continued to shrink. It’s now an embarassing shadow of it’s former self forlornly clinging to a few bookcases in the far corner of its previous space.
I know that the computer books market is going through a bit of a bad patch (I’m a computer book author, I know how bad it has got) but this seems to me to be a bit of an over-reaction.
Luckily (well, in one sense) the old lady who ran Foyles died a few years ago. And apparently the bizarre layout was her idea. So now their books are arranged in a far saner fashion. So I do most of my book browsing there now. I say “browsing” because, like most of the world, I do my actual buying from Amazon.
 “Where are your books on Perl?” “They’re organised by publisher, so most of them are in the O’Reilly section, but there are also some by various other publishers scattered around the department.”