I would recommend that all you book junkies sit down for this revelation . . . are you sitting? Okay, so the fact is that I haven’t been in a bookstore in probably six months. Yes, I know – take a deep breath, in and out – I’m insane, but the truth is that there’s not a decent bookstore within thirty minutes or so of my house. So I just don’t get there. I rely on the library and Bookmooch for my supplies. And to be honest, from what I saw yesterday, I’m not really missing out on that much.
I met my friend Joe – who says that this bookstore is his library – at Borders yesterday. Normally, all things being equal, I wouldn’t really visit a commercial bookstore; I prefer independents even though I have worked in three major chain bookstores during my life. But as I said, there aren’t many options for bookstores where I live, so I take what I can get.
When I arrive, a few minutes early, I grab some magazines, a couple of books, and start scouting out a table in the cafe. This is my usual big bookstore routine. I sip some coffee, flip through magazines, and then go browse the books when I’m fully caffeinated for the trek. But yesterday, the place was buzzy with students, people settled in with laptops and printed Powerpoint slides about various body parts (nursing students, I assume), and other folks who decided that it was their bounded duty to read every magazine in the store by the close of business yesterday.
So I paced some more. I tried to look at the environmental magazines – I need some tips on solar panels – but two older folks had appropriated that area of the magazine cases for their own conversation, and they stayed there for twenty minutes. So I kept circling, trying to avoid the massive black racks of calendars (I’m a sucker for calendars, but really, how many calendars does a woman need?) and browsing the front of store displays until Joe showed up. We took one more scout through the cafe, and then he assured me that there were always seats in the back – no luck. Full, too. “Is this the only thing to do on a Sunday?” Joe asked. I guess so; we were there.
Eventually, Joe and I wandered the stacks for a bit, talking about what we’d read, pondering the number of authors represented in the store, questioning how much money these folks make for publishing a book – not much was our conclusion. He showed me this offensive, hideous, Mother Mary piggy bank that was decorated in hot pink, no fuschia glitter. (I plan on getting him that for Christmas). I pointed out books I’d like. We discussed Richard Dawkins (I find him bitter; Joe doesn’t). And eventually, lo and behold, a table in the cafe opened up. Now, I did have to do one of those sneaky parking lot steals where I slid into the table as another woman rounded the corner – but we got the table and had a nice chat while we sipped our coffees.
In the end, the day was nice and certainly it was heartening to see so many people reading, but I do long for a bookstore that is quiet and still, where big comfy, leather chairs sit in the back and dust motes dance in the sunshine. That’s my kind of bookstore. But it was nice to be with a friend among books again. That was nice.
Oh, and for those of you who are curious, I made it out without buying a single book – but I did get one magazine and a cd. I have to pay for my cafe time somehow, I figure.