Over the weekend I passed by the Barnes & Nobles in Burlington, MA across from the mall, so I stopped to check out the latest titles in their vast Computers section, which spans about 8 bookshelves, each about 12-20 feet long and 5-10 rows high. This is an enormous amount of books for a generic book store just devoted to General Computing, Web Programming, Web Design, Graphic Design, Macintosh, Databases, XML, Perl, Java, C/C++, Windows, Unix/Linux, and more.

I poured over the titles looking for ColdFusion books, through the Java/J2EE section, past the ASP and PHP sections, on to the Web Programming section and even into the General Computing section, but there was no sign of the familiar blue and white covers, a popular color scheme in CFMX related books. Disappointed, and already thinking up a rant blog entry, I turned the corner and stumbled into the Web Design section. There among a towering but narrow shelf that was 10 or more rows high, saturated with Flash and Dreamweaver books, I finally recognized what I was looking for. Just below center were a tiny handful of ColdFusion books, including the CFMX Bible, the CFMX WACK set of books, the O'Reilly book, and a couple other titles I don't remember. Right next to it was a single Macromedia Flex book.

Luckily there were packed thick, so I do what I usually do when I stumble upon ColdFusion books squished into a tiny corner of the wrong bookshelf... I take a few off the front and dispense them prominently in the J2EE, ASP, and Web Programming sections, placing them square in the center just below my eye level with their full cover facing forward.

While my short-lived stint in product placement makes me happy, I remain generally confounded as to why so few ColdFusion books are stocked at all in a store that probably has no less than 500 Java related books, and why ColdFusion is almost always miscategorized in my opinion. Why, oh why, would ColdFusion programming books not be placed in the Web Programming section, well I'll never know.

On the way to work today, I stopped by the SoftPro bookstore in Waltham, next the Weston hotel off of Rt. 128. SoftPro is transitioning to a new name, Quantum Books. They specialize in discounted technical books, and the whole of the store is just marginally larger than the Barnes & Nobles Computers section. The store was empty when I walked so I had a brief discussion with the manager who was delighted to provide a personal tour of the inventory. She walked me just 2 bookshelves away where a small section titled Macromedia was located, about five feet wide and five rows high. On the second shelf from the bottom were three ColdFusion titles, only one copy of each, on the second to the bottom shelf which was dark and required me to stoop to see them well, and underneath the weight of yet more Flash and Dreamweaver books. Way down here was a ColdFusion Bible, the pair of CFMX 7 WACKs, and a ColdFusion for Dreamweaver title, ugh.

The bookshelf was a standalone type, not too far from front door, which pleased me, but again not properly intermingled with SoftPro Java or Web Programming sections which snobbishly occupy the well lighted shelves that span the length of the wall. However, this is a significant improvement for this particular store where a year ago they had just as few CFMX books, but located all the way in the back, on the very last shelf, on the bottom.

I noted my disappointment in the ColdFusion selection to the manager, and she commented that the Cambridge store must have more titles, which I understood to mean simply that the Cambridge store is larger, not that there is somehow a growing clan of book hungry ColdFusion developers in Cambridge but not Waltham. Trying to appease me, she brought me behind the counter where she logged in to their inventory so she could show me what titles exist at all and which new titles will be shipping soon this year. She frowned when the search results were somewhat lacking, indicated by the large size of the browser's scroll bar to the right. For fall of 2005 there were only three titles listed, one with two coauthors whose names I did not recognize, one by Pete Freitag - a new edition of the ColdFusion MX Developer's Cookbook, and a third on Building Enterprise Applications with ColdFusion by Simon Horwith which turned out to be cancelled and wouldn't be shipping.

Overall, I do feel very satisfied that book stores such as these even exist, and that they are both located in less than ten miles from home, especially when compared to the experience of a friend of mine from Germany who works for SAP who commented the lack of such bookstores in Germany and how he thought he was in book heaven when he first stepped into our local B&N last year.

How are the book stores in your area? What vendors are nearby? How is their Computers area, or do they even have one? If so, what's it like and what's the local situation with the volume of ColdFusion titles?