Friday, September 24, 2010

Readerhoods

Yesterday I went to BAM, my favorite readerhood, and took some considerable me-time to amble through the aisles and soak up all the good vibes. It's like being in a library, a church and a candy shop at the same time; I tiptoe and meditate and drool a little. On this trip I probably spent as much time watching people shop as I did browsing; force of habit from my bookseller days.

In bookstores, there seem to be two types of shoppers: those who can't wait to leave, and those who never want to. I can actually pick out parents looking for Cliff Notes or homework assignment books for their kid; they leave an almost visible wake of high annoyance behind them. Mall bookstores have become the waiting rooms of husbands who need to kill some time and noticed the wall of magazine racks, random weary elderly folks who couldn't find an empty bench out in the mall common areas, and resentful teens whose mothers wouldn't let them get that really cool piercing at the kiosk of self-mutilation.

You don't really notice the people who actually want to be in the bookstore because they're usually on the move, prowling the shelves and circling the remainder tables while they look for hidden treasures and quick bargains (the 75% off remainder bins like this one get shuffled through regularly.) Unlike the gotta-get-outta-here customers, they make a grand tour, starting at the front co-op realm of bestsellers and working their way back through every aisle. When they reach the spot with their favorite form of fiction, they will stand for as long as thirty minutes in one spot while examining spines, studying covers and reading back copy before shuffling down to the next chunk of the author surname alphabet.

Genre readers at my BAM seem to have interesting common habits. All romance readers seem to read copy first; every time I go into that aisle I see a woman standing and reading the back of books. They are the friendliest/most talkative readers, too. SF/F buffs like to stand and skim the first couple chapters in their book of choice, and they ignore everyone who comes near them. They seem to be the surliest; if you need to reach in front of them to get a book and ask them to move they take it like a personal affront. Mystery readers are usually the oldest shelf browsers (and the biggest complainers to store staff); Manga readers are some of the youngest, and because they're the poorest, usually plop down on the aisle floor to read the whole book versus buying it. I've yet to see a teenager browsing in the YA section (lots of middle-aged ladies haunt it, though.)

Any writers in the store are usually in the cafe letting their foamy lattes go flat while they scowl at their netbooks and laptops and scribble down notes in untidy spiral bound notebooks. Most of them are there to be seen, not to write, and I tend to think of them as performance writers. If you want to really mess with them, walk behind them, pause, and glance over their shoulder at whatever they're typing. Then raise your eyebrows, smile, and move on fast (or you may end up spending the next two hours listening to a rambling description of some over-complicated Starship Troopers/Naomi Novik knockoff complete with orcs and dragons.)

I'm loyal to my local BAM for a couple of reasons: they almost always have the latest releases I want (today I went to see if they had Alison Kent's Icing on the Cake, her first reality-based romance, and sure enough, it was on the shelf.) I found another novel I wanted to read but that I didn't think was supposed to be out yet, thought I had the wrong date in my head, and took it up front. As soon as the bookseller running the register scanned it, she apologized and said that it shouldn't have been shelved, she couldn't sell it to me, but offered to hold it for me until October 1st. Lay-down date enforced! Right in front of my eyes! I felt like kissing her, but settled for a smile and an "okay."

I've had some cool experiences at this BAM, too. During one visit I got into a discussion on Harlequin novels with a lifelong reader who knew who Margaret Rome was and had the same set of handblown lavender subscription bonus wineglasses I'd collected back in the eighties. Blew my mind. My favorite thing to do still is hand-sell to a talkative browser, or walk up to a confused-looking shopper and ask them what they're looking for, and then find that book. Sometimes all I have to go on is what they think the title was (inevitably wrong) and they're always a little stunned when I find it for them.

There's only one bookstore in my area that I've been steering clear of, and it's one of these giant warehouse clearance monstrosity that sets up temporary shop to get rid of overstock remainders. The first and only time I went to the one near me I saw this mess. The weekend sale they had going let you buy any book under the roof for two bucks, and there were big art books and scholarly tomes that retailed for $50.00 + or more new. They had empty shelves all around the store, but instead of shelving the books the help left them piled in the shipping boxes. Any that had fallen on the floor were just left there to get stepped on and soiled by indifferent feet. It killed me to see books being treated this way.

One bookstore memory that has stayed with me for years was crossing paths with a lovely older romance author in a Chicago Borders. She was wearing a gorgeous suit, but I recognized her at once because she's one of those rare authors who actually looks exactly like her bio pic. I thought she might be there for a signing or an event, but while I watched from a safe distance she picked up a couple of books to buy and then faced out her novels. Some of her books were on one of the lowest shelves, and she was wearing a skirt so it should have been awkward, but no, she did this graceful genuflection that spoke of years of practice. I didn't bother her, but seeing her there by herself, just quietly performing one of the more mundane of authorial tasks, made my heart melt (perhaps because I was there for the same reason.)

I keep hearing people say book stores are an endangered species, and it worries me. I realized how much it hurts to lose a readerhood; last year one of my favorite mall haunts closed and became a home decor shop. We don't have all that many book stores in my area to begin with, and to see them close one that I'd shopped at so often, where I'd made friends with the staff and talked books with so many other readers, made me feel a little betrayed and lost. And I still can't walk past the idiot shop that replaced it without feeling a pang of grief and an intense desire to go in there and kick over some overpriced lamps.

Online shopping is convenient, and will probably shut down a lot more of the brick-and-mortar stores, but it's largely sterile and disconnected. E-readers, while even more convenient, also eliminate the fun of those bargain book hunts and hidden treasure novels quests. Getting out there and visiting your favorite readerhood takes time, but there is nothing to equal the experience. I love my BAM, and shop mostly there, but this fall I'm going to make a point to visit all of the other bookstores in my area to spread the love around. I really don't want to see stores end up becoming remainder maulers who just toss books into huge cardboard bins and leave them to be picked over by the price vultures. Books merit better treatment than dollar store items.

Now it's your turn: what's your favorite readerhood like? How often are you getting out to shop for books versus ordering online? Which do you enjoy more? Let us know in comments.

53 comments:

  1. My favorite brick-and-mortar was a local indie store that went out of business some five years or so ago. They had a bit of everything, the books were arranged well and easy to find, and the clerks knew their business. I could spend hours there, happy as a clam.

    The only one close to me now is a chain store, very stylish, catering to people with cell phones and laptops who buy their coffee and bagels.
    But there are nooks filled with a few comfortable old chairs filled with readers so absorbed I can't resist a happy sigh for them.
    Online shopping = convenience.
    A building full of books = a small slice of heaven.

    ReplyDelete
  2. My favourite bookshop is the one run by the student's union of the University of Iceland. It's located out of the way of my daily routine, so I don't often go there, but when I do, I am usually making a combined bookshop and National Library visit, since the two are located in the same neighbourhood. I can spend an hour or two just browsing all the weird and wonderful books there. Since they regularly stock up on cheap Wordsworth editions, I also regularly buy books from them.
    Another bookshop I like a lot is an indie store located in down-town Reykjavík. When I buy new books it's usually from one of those two.

    I much prefer an actual bookshop to a virtual one, but there are certain authors whose books I am so eager to get that I pre-order them from online book shops.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh, I still prefer shopping instores, any day of the week. I'll buy online if I'm in a rush or there's a book I have to have RIGHT NOW and I can't make it to the store but I like my browsing experience. There is a browsing experience with online buying but it's not quite the same. I get a thrill when I see see books on the shelves by people I know, too... it's not quite the same online.

    ReplyDelete
  4. My fav is a used bookstore in Ocala. She sells new as well and will order in anything that you don't see. She will even put in her computer if there is a used book you are looking for and when it comes in she holds it. The owner is big into romance and the other genres but has history books, art, etc. as well. Very cool store.

    I do occasionally go to the BAM in Leesburg and the Barnes and Noble in Winter Garden. I don't make it to Borders very often anymore.

    ReplyDelete
  5. "It's like being in a library, a church and a candy shop at the same time"

    Ohhhh, you said it! That's exactly how I always feel.

    ReplyDelete
  6. My favorite place to go up until a few months ago was a huge indie store. It took almost 45 minutes to get there so we would only go once a month for a romance book club, but I always saved my romance titles to buy there. It was beautifully designed and three open levels with a welcoming staff. Unfortunately they had to close down; the owner is opening another book store, but even farther from me. It makes me really sad.

    My friends and I are thinking about going on a search for all the local, indie book stores we've never heard of and trying to check one out every couple of weeks.

    I'm a new releases buyer - I'm the one who has stuff pre-ordered for pick up at the B&N by my work and usually has an order every other week to pick up. Yes, it's a problem. I'm doing my best to handle it! ;D

    ReplyDelete
  7. Anonymous8:46 AM

    I love bookstores the best. Online, I need to know what I want - and it's very convenient to order or preorder this way - but in person I inevitably stumble across something new.
    My favorite independant store closed several years ago when the Borders and Barnes and Noble opened up across the street from each other in the newer shopping district. However, I have to say, the staff at both stores are wonderful and I visit both.
    I have a question; what is a reality-based romance?
    JulieB

    ReplyDelete
  8. Port Townsend's bookstores will never go out of business. This is partly because Jefferson County has a lot of educated people and devoted readers and partly because big box/chain stores have never been allowed in. That means that when B&N/Borders sprung up all across the country, the local bookstores here stayed here. And now that B&N/Borders stores are closing, the local bookstores are STILL here. They don't cater to romance readers and will probably never stock my books, but we'll still be buying books there ten years from now.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Raine wrote: The only one close to me now is a chain store, very stylish, catering to people with cell phones and laptops who buy their coffee and bagels.

    Same situation here pretty much. The only indie bookstore within twenty minutes drive for me is a rare/old bookstore that doesn't carry new releases. I decided to start shopping mainly at BAM because of the quality of the inventory, the sparkling tidiness of the store and the booksellers, who are really great.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Bibliophile wrote: I much prefer an actual bookshop to a virtual one, but there are certain authors whose books I am so eager to get that I pre-order them from online book shops.

    I do pre-order online for a few books I can't wait for, but if they're good and I want to give away copies I'll go to my BAM and buy them there to make up for my impatience. :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. My favorite brick and mortar use to be a Waldens in Rockefeller Center. Its gone now so I generally head to B&N by my work. In a good week I will only go once but generally I find myself there a couple or every day at lunch. I buy a lot online too - generally its at Amazon/BooksonBoard/AllRomance.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Shiloh wrote: There is a browsing experience with online buying but it's not quite the same. I get a thrill when I see see books on the shelves by people I know, too... it's not quite the same online.

    Agreed. Btw, your Veil of Shadows got some nice co-op at my BAM, pal -- it was on the romance shelves, on the new pb release whirly thing (pictured) and up front on the hallowed pb shelves.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Leslee wrote: My fav is a used bookstore in Ocala. She sells new as well and will order in anything that you don't see.

    What's the name of the store, if you don't mind me asking, Leslee?

    ReplyDelete
  14. Margaret wrote: Ohhhh, you said it! That's exactly how I always feel.

    A fellow drooler! Lol.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Cid wrote: My friends and I are thinking about going on a search for all the local, indie book stores we've never heard of and trying to check one out every couple of weeks.

    An indie book shop hop sounds like a great idea, C -- I bet you guys find some cool places (and note to self, I should do another search of my area, see if I missed any).

    ReplyDelete
  16. Julie wrote: I have a question; what is a reality-based romance?

    It's a romance that was written based on the real life love story, published by HCI books' True Vows imprint. Alison Kent, along with Julie Leto and Judith Arnold are the authors who are launching the line, more on which you can read about at Alison's blog here.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Charlene wrote: ...when B&N/Borders sprung up all across the country, the local bookstores here stayed here. And now that B&N/Borders stores are closing, the local bookstores are STILL here. They don't cater to romance readers and will probably never stock my books, but we'll still be buying books there ten years from now.

    We had a couple of hardcore oldtimer indies like that in South Florida. One that operated from a strip mall in the town where I grew up has probably been in operation as long as I've been alive. Unlike most indies, that one carries mostly romance, and I always stop in whenever I'm down there visiting.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Marnie wrote: My favorite brick and mortar use to be a Waldens in Rockefeller Center. Its gone now so I generally head to B&N by my work.

    We've lost a lot of Waldenbooks since they were absorbed or bought by Borders. The one I mentioned that shut down and became a lamp store was a Waldens. :(

    ReplyDelete
  19. There are only two bookstores where I live. One is exactly what you would think of as a small town used bookstore, and I love to go there for hours if I don't have something specific to look for and can spare the time. The other bookstore is a big chain store, but they are usually well stocked, and there is at least one friendly worker every time I go in. I tend to spend every weekend there, though toward the end of the month when my entertainment budget has dwindled, I have to force myself to avoid it. They are one of the few places in town open past 9:00 on the weekend, so it's where I tend to spend my Saturday nights unless I have other plans.

    ReplyDelete
  20. You've made me realise that I've not been in a "proper" book store in years. I feel so ashamed.

    But I guess that's mainly because there are none this side of the city centre, where there is one big chain store (Waterstones), a WH SMiths (which has a range of books, but mainly sells stationary) and a number of small speciality book shops that I did not know about until I looked after reading this post. A quick look shows that there are at least 6 book stores within a mile of the city centre area.

    I guess that because Bristol has 2 large universities and a large college, there are loads of students to help support them.

    However, I've not been to them - I find going into town a PITA and parking/public transport expensive, and I hate having to work my way through loads of tired and hassled shoppers.

    Perhaps as someone who wants to write, I really should make the effort to go and browse these shops one day.

    Amazon is a lot more convenient though - I can read reviews written by people who have already read the book, and can get it delivered for free, saving travel/parking costs.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I love visiting B&N, a fairly good sized one, but it's in a couple of towns over so I don't by there often. It's always a treat to be able to have the luxury of browsing the books at my own slow and sweet leisure when I can.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Diane Lord10:24 AM

    We only have one bookstore in town, BB. I like it a lot as long as I get there quick enough. I usually track the new releases online and then rush to the store when the pub date comes up, othewise they are all gone! I also go there to brouse...most online bookstores only show you what "they" think you want to read..which is ridiculous, they should show ALL new releases in whatever genre. Plus there is nothing better than handling a book...the heck with those battery driven things. A book is made to be caressed, pages folded, and re-read whenever you want. I have to admit, I am a pack rate when it comes to series books like yours..I guess I must be saving them for retirement so I can reread the best :) And you are right about the SF area, I always have to make someone move, when they are "ubering" this and that on their cell phone while not making any real effort to actually look at the back of the books for content, and looking at only the covers. If you are that rushed, why buy it? You will never read it. I on the other hand spend hours in BB just looking and buying.
    Diane

    ReplyDelete
  23. As much as I love ordering online (and the discounts), there's no better way to find new authors than browsing my local B&N. There I can look over covers/titles and see what draws me in. I always spend way more than I budgeted for but it's worth it when I find a new author or I find that one of my favorites has actually completed a series or written something new.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I really love browsing through used book stores. When I visit my parents in Virginia, I go to the downtown mall where there are three or four excellent USBs. One of them has very large scifi/fantasy and mystery sections.

    Sometimes instead of finding what I'm look for, I find something better. The book club edition of The Winthrop Woman by Anya Seton. The book was published 1954 but is in great condition with the original dust jacket--$5.00. Or the brand new copy of A Life in Hand: Creating the Illuminated Journal by Hannah Hinchman. It even comes with a blank journal. I think I bought it for $4.99 and was ecstastic. Then I noticed new versions on amazon for $161.83. Even if it was only $1.99 I don't think I would give it up.

    I also find what I'm not looking for on the web. While checking out your link for a "Bliss," I found an amazing journal-writing book by Janet Conner titled "Writing Down Your Soul."

    So I love searching book stores and surfing the web. I think that means I have an addiction problem.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Oh, I am happy to share the name, address, phone number and web site!

    A Novel Idea Bookstore
    2019 E Silver Springs Blvd
    352-351-9475
    Monday-Thursday: 10am - 7pm

    Friday-Saturday: 10am - 8pm

    Sunday: 11am - 4pm

    www.anovelideasbooks.com

    Michelle, the owner is lovely. She gives 25% off new books if you bring in trade in books. Tell her I sent you, if you don't mind. :)

    ReplyDelete
  26. Agreed. Btw, your Veil of Shadows got some nice co-op at my BAM, pal -- it was on the romance shelves, on the new pb release whirly thing (pictured) and up front on the hallowed pb shelves.

    Really??? Wow... thanks for letting me know!

    ReplyDelete
  27. Anonymous12:35 PM

    I buy in a bookstore for all the reasons you mentioned.

    I do collect bookstores though. Whereever I travel I find a new bookstore and check out what is featured.

    One of my favorite bookstores for over 20 years now is the poisoned pen. You can't beat their customer service in person or online.....and I say that as a former bookseller.

    Ask for Patrick.

    Rebecca

    ReplyDelete
  28. *sigh* I miss my indie! Really miss it. I knew everyone by name, they knew me, well enough to call me when a book I'd been interested in came in, even though I'd not put my name on a list. They carried newspapers from Scotland and England and I loved reading them. They had a little spot where you could have a muffin, a cup of coffee and a huge, fluffy chair to sit in and read to your hearts content. And their children's section was wonderful. My girls spent many a rainy day there while I read the books that called to me.

    Now, I have a couple of the chain stores and though one in particular is...nice, it's just not the same. So I find myself shopping there when I need something 'right now' and most of my online shopping is done through an indie.

    Things change...

    ReplyDelete
  29. I love getting books in the mail -- any non-bill mail is good, but books are better -- and yet there is NOTHING like an actual book store. My indie is probably my favorite, because they know me. They have yet to really recommend something I appreciate, but they try. And they recognize me, and say hello and ask how I'm doing (and seem like they MEAN IT) every time I go visit.

    I also love walking down a row of books, mentally (or sometimes verbally) exclaiming: "I know her, and her, and oh! I have that one SIGNED, and I follow her on Twitter..."

    ReplyDelete
  30. library church and candy shop?! Yes! that's the best description. I LOVE spending time in bookstores. Once my hubs and I had to go to the Apple store to get something fixed, I can't remember. And since it's not in a neighborhood we normally visit, with a burger place we really liked, we had the brilliant idea to stick around the neighborhood and then go to dinner. What to do to pass time? Forget the fact the Apple store is in the middle of one of the best shopping districts in the area. We trotted down the street to the giant Borders next to the burger place and just browsed for a while!

    I'm one of those people who tries really hard not to ever buy a book without at least reading the first chapter to see if I'll like it, and until authors all start putting excerpts on their websites (I usually could care less about what an author does or doesn't do in terms of promo, but this is one thing I feel like should be a no-brainer for those with website space, no offense), until then I prefer to go into the store so I can read before I buy.

    Not to mention the utter joy of browsing and finding something you might never have found otherwise!

    And the smell of fresh paper. Ahhh.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Penny Pflager4:09 PM

    I will research all my favorite authors online and find out what and when their next releases are and bring that list with me to the store. Then when I am at the store I go directly to each section and get the books from my list. Once accomplished I take my time and browse. I like to find new authors I haven't read. I like to walk through the aisles and look at the cover art. I could live in a bookstore if they would let me. The feel of books all around me is very soothing and to think of all the stories that they hold is wonderful. Although I do my booklist lookup online, I very rarely buy online.

    ReplyDelete
  32. THanks to 33%-40% off coup0ns from Borders Rewards I get out to the brick and mortar often. At least once every other week if not every week. (Its a half hour out of my way or I'd be there more often.)

    ALthough I do shop online for convenience- true bibliophile love is only felt at the brick and mortar. And yes, I'm the one working my way through it, if I dont have someone tapping their foot waiting for me to finish along with me! :P

    "I've yet to see a teenager browsing in the YA section (lots of middle-aged ladies haunt it, though.)"

    THAT line made me laugh out loud. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  33. I do alot of browsing online, mostly to check out recent releases and the coming soon pages at Amazon. However I do most of my buying at a bookstore.

    ReplyDelete
  34. I do alot of browsing online, mostly to check out recent releases and the coming soon pages at Amazon. However I do most of my buying at a bookstore.

    ReplyDelete
  35. In my hometown, we have two big chainstores in the city center, a few smaller chainstores in malls and a handful of small independents. I usually shop in the two chainstores in the city center, because they have a pretty decent selection of English books, which the other stores don't have. Because I read fiction mainly in English in a non-English speaking country, Amazon is often the best way to get the less popular books. But I also love to browse bookstores, because I find so much that I didn't even know existed.

    We used to have two marvelous independent stores. One had a marvelous foreign language section and also a huge range of serious and academic nonfiction (most stores seem to think nonfiction means celebrity bios, travel guides and political rantery). That store still exists, but at a fracture of its former size. And they jettisoned all the departments I shopped in. The other store specialized in art books and so-called coffee table books, usually at marked down prices. You could find amazing stuff there. They closed a few years ago, to be replaced by a shoe shop. Because the other twenty or so shoe shops in town weren't sufficient.

    Favourite bookstore ever: Probably Murder One in London, sadly defunct now. Murder One specialized in genre fiction and had three sections, crime fiction, romance and SF/Fantasy. If it was in print and belonged to one of those genres, you could find it there. London is fabulous for booklovers anyway and I always reserve several hours for a stroll down Charing Cross Road whenever I'm there. It's not as great as it was, when I was a student in the mid 1990s, but still marvelous.

    From an architecture POV, I love Donner Boeken in Rotterdam (the selection is good, too). The store is housed in a modernist building designed by a famous architect duo. They must have been timelords, because the building looks about four floors high from the outside, but really had about eight floors on the inside. The floors are like floating platforms, arranged around a courtyard and linked by staircases. You could either start on the groundfloor and work your way up or take the lift to the top floor and spiral down. Either way, it's fabulous.

    PS: Andrew, when I was in Bristol two years ago, they had a very good Blackwell's near the university. Not quite as good as the one in London, but close.

    ReplyDelete
  36. In my hometown, we have two big chainstores in the city center, a few smaller chainstores in malls and a handful of small independents. I usually shop in the two chainstores in the city center, because they have a pretty decent selection of English books, which the other stores don't have. Because I read fiction mainly in English in a non-English speaking country, Amazon is often the best way to get the less popular books. But I also love to browse bookstores, because I find so much that I didn't even know existed.

    We used to have two marvelous independent stores. One had a marvelous foreign language section and also a huge range of serious and academic nonfiction (most stores seem to think nonfiction means celebrity bios, travel guides and political rantery). That store still exists, but at a fracture of its former size. And they jettisoned all the departments I shopped in. The other store specialized in art books and so-called coffee table books, usually at marked down prices. You could find amazing stuff there. They closed a few years ago, to be replaced by a shoe shop. Because the other twenty or so shoe shops in town weren't sufficient.

    Favourite bookstore ever: Probably Murder One in London, sadly defunct now. Murder One specialized in genre fiction and had three sections, crime fiction, romance and SF/Fantasy. If it was in print and belonged to one of those genres, you could find it there. London is fabulous for booklovers anyway and I always reserve several hours for a stroll down Charing Cross Road whenever I'm there. It's not as great as it was, when I was a student in the mid 1990s, but still marvelous.

    From an architecture POV, I love Donner Boeken in Rotterdam (the selection is good, too). The store is housed in a modernist building designed by a famous architect duo. They must have been timelords, because the building looks about four floors high from the outside, but really had about eight floors on the inside. The floors are like floating platforms, arranged around a courtyard and linked by staircases. You could either start on the groundfloor and work your way up or take the lift to the top floor and spiral down. Either way, it's fabulous.

    PS: Andrew, when I was in Bristol two years ago, they had a very good Blackwell's near the university. Not quite as good as the one in London, but close.

    ReplyDelete
  37. In my hometown, we have two big chainstores in the city center, a few smaller chainstores in malls and a handful of small independents. I usually shop in the two chainstores in the city center, because they have a pretty decent selection of English books, which the other stores don't have. Because I read fiction mainly in English in a non-English speaking country, Amazon is often the best way to get the less popular books. But I also love to browse bookstores, because I find so much that I didn't even know existed.

    We used to have two marvelous independent stores. One had a marvelous foreign language section and also a huge range of serious and academic nonfiction (most stores seem to think nonfiction means celebrity bios, travel guides and political rantery). That store still exists, but at a fracture of its former size. And they jettisoned all the departments I shopped in. The other store specialized in art books and so-called coffee table books, usually at marked down prices. You could find amazing stuff there. They closed a few years ago, to be replaced by a shoe shop. Because the other twenty or so shoe shops in town weren't sufficient.

    Favourite bookstore ever: Probably Murder One in London, sadly defunct now. Murder One specialized in genre fiction and had three sections, crime fiction, romance and SF/Fantasy. If it was in print and belonged to one of those genres, you could find it there. London is fabulous for booklovers anyway and I always reserve several hours for a stroll down Charing Cross Road whenever I'm there. It's not as great as it was, when I was a student in the mid 1990s, but still marvelous.

    From an architecture POV, I love Donner Boeken in Rotterdam (the selection is good, too). The store is housed in a modernist building designed by a famous architect duo. They must have been timelords, because the building looks about four floors high from the outside, but really had about eight floors on the inside. The floors are like floating platforms, arranged around a courtyard and linked by staircases. You could either start on the groundfloor and work your way up or take the lift to the top floor and spiral down. Either way, it's fabulous.

    ReplyDelete
  38. There is a Border's less than 5 minutes from my house, and I am there at least a few times a week. I like to get my own writing done there because of the atmosphere. It's quiet and the people are nice. You get all kinds coming in: young, old, professionals, students, families, singles, study groups. They provide an interesting backdrop while I'm perusing the shelves.

    ReplyDelete
  39. I never quite got used to the "reading" in new bookstores, cause it was totally unacceptable when I was growing up. I was a library addict and used bookstores to be honest, because I had an avid reading habit and no money. I still remember a crazy used bookstore in Virginia though. Old house redone with bookshelves in the walls everywhere and a little piece of everything there.

    Now I shop both online and at the local bookstores, mostly B&N and Borders, though there is one indie a bit of a drive from here that I go to, and try to find something to buy each time even though the selection is small.

    Oh, and if you're willing, can I possibly give you a story description of an 80s Harlequin and see if you remember the author or title? Your comment about being an 80s reader gives me hope. I've been trying to recover this particular book forever, but I can't remember either title or author, just the story, down to details.

    ReplyDelete
  40. DeeCee9:08 PM

    I used to love the Borders in Boise when it was in a giant warehouse near the mall. But several years ago the rent spiked and they moved into the mall into a tiny space barely 1/8 of what it used to be. I used to spend hours there, and now I avoid it like the plague.

    The Barnes and Noble that was across the street from Borders remodeled and I cannot find anything anymore. I don't mind searching for what I want as long as I don't have to fight tons of people to get there or have to dig through layers of books to get the one I want. Consequently this is why I dislike Hastings. Books stacked on a shelf two deep and willy nilly drive me bonkers when it's a chain. At a used bookstore I might expect it, but a new chain...argh.

    The only other indie bookstore that sold new and used moved and now there in downtown traffic and parking hell. It's a bigger store, but much more difficult to get to and browse.

    I really dislike online shopping because I'm a browser. I really love the smell of bookstores and the people who can't wait to get their hands on the latest book from a favorite author. Online I buy books that I can't find locally or that are significantly cheaper.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Leslee wrote: Oh, I am happy to share the name, address, phone number and web site!

    Thanks, lady. I will definitely stop in there the next time I'm in Ocala. :)

    ReplyDelete
  42. Margaret wrote: Oh, and if you're willing, can I possibly give you a story description of an 80s Harlequin and see if you remember the author or title? Your comment about being an 80s reader gives me hope. I've been trying to recover this particular book forever, but I can't remember either title or author, just the story, down to details.

    Sure, be happy to help if I can. I read almost all the Harlequin Presents line up to the 1000 mark, and a lot of the old regular romances, too.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Okay, you asked for it :).

    This was 80s or earlier, but I believe 80s. My picture memory is weak but I think it was one of the white covers with the circle frame of a man standing with craggs behind him (but I'm not sure about that part).

    Here's the part I'm sure of:

    The story is set in Wales. The daughter of a mine owner (coal I believe) finds out her father has sold her failing legacy to a foreigner (Brit I believe) who is arrogant and sure of himself (totally rubs her the wrong way). She believes she can run the mine herself, but her father is sure the men won't listen to her. She's engaged to some other guy who is nice and courteous and everything she thinks he wants, but he doesn't challenge her or get her like the stranger does, something she doesn't want to admit. Oh, and he gives her this spoon which is a Welsh tradition to announce your intentions, but she thinks he's just a foreigner who can't understand, right up until the point that he kisses her and it's a scene to curl your toes. I read this as a teen, some time before '89, when I was reading 20+ novels a week. And yet, it stuck with me that completely and I would love to find it again :).

    So...any thoughts?

    ReplyDelete
  44. Margaret wrote: So...any thoughts?

    The cover definitely sounds like a Harlequin Presents, and the story might be an Anne Mather novel. She used Wales as a setting for a number of her novels. Let me think a bit more on it . . .

    ReplyDelete
  45. Margaret -- I can remember reading one HP that was about a daughter trying to save her father's coal mine via marriage to a rich guy named Jet (the name of the hero stuck with me all these years because of the color pun [Jet = coal.]) I'm pretty sure it was set in the U.S., though, not Wales. I also think might have been part of Janet Dailey's 50-state series for HP because very few of the other early HP authors ever wrote stories set in America. Does that sound familiar?

    ReplyDelete
  46. Those are great thoughts. I'll look into Anne Mather, whose name sounds familiar. Yes, there were quite a few of the coal mine stories set in the US, but I'm absolutely sure about the Wales part...besides, the last thing she wanted was to marry him :).

    Thanks for giving me a lead.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Sadly, I went through the whole period for Anne Mather (yes, I really want to find it) and it's not one of hers.

    However, all my searching did find yours:

    Wild and Wonderful by none other than Janet Dailey. You have an excellent memory, though it is Jett with two "t"s.
    http://www.paperbackswap.com/Wild-Wonderful-Harlequin-Janet-Dailey/book/0373104162/

    ReplyDelete
  48. Lynn,

    You are so very welcome! :)

    ReplyDelete
  49. Margaret wrote: Sadly, I went through the whole period for Anne Mather (yes, I really want to find it) and it's not one of hers.

    Rats. I'm sorry you had to go to all that trouble and come up with nothing. I've looked through my HP collection (I was thinking it might be a book by Lillian Peake or Anne Weale, too, but found nothing that matches your description.)

    A Welsh love spoon -- the spoon given to the heroine in the story -- is a distinctive element; that may be your best clue. I'd ask around some Harlequin reader boards, mention it and see if it jogs any memories. If it was published prior to 1989 it definitely would be in the first 1000 numbered run of the Presents line.

    ReplyDelete
  50. Margaret,

    You can try looking here:

    http://www.romancewiki.com/Harlequin_Romance_By_The_Numbers

    It doesn't come up on a search, but maybe you'll see the cover or something that sounds familiar in one of the titles.

    ReplyDelete
  51. Oh, don't consider it wasted time. I discovered half a dozen that I remember from the blurbs. People say that romance, especially Harlequin, are cookie cutter, but if that were the case, I wouldn't recognize any of them. The search for this book has been a fun chase down my past as I pick up book after book to realize I've read it too :).

    And yes, in my searching, I often come across posts I put up in the hopes of finding it, such as on eHarlequin, but no results yet. I found a site that probably has it buried somewhere, but they want $20 a year just to search their synopses for one book. It's not worth that much to me I guess, or maybe the search is more poignant when I don't put a dollar amount on it.

    Oh, and the timing is definitely before 1990, cause once I graduated college, I had a subscription so didn't get them from the library (and was in a different state so different library system). It should be easy to find with so many clear markers, but that was pre Internet :).

    ReplyDelete
  52. Thanks nightsmusic. That's a lot of titles to go through, but it has to be there somewhere :).

    ReplyDelete
  53. Curious to see this post, as I just got a request today to create a proposal to change our one and only brick & mortar book store in town into a health clinic. I'm pretty bummed about it, since we've been losing book stores, new and used, left and right these last few years. My special used book store (which I would use only for out of print books after discovering author's are People Too, thanks to their blogs) closed after I'd been going to it since I was 13. It was 30 miles away, but worth it. Now I gotta go to the next town over to B&N.
    I do find it curious that I buy from book stores to get my books , where most seem to buy on-line to get them sooner. It must be the cheap-o shipping I choose...

    ReplyDelete