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The Boulder Bookstore located on the West end of the Pearl Street Mall Nov. 11, 2008. (CU Independent file/ Sam Hall)
There is a reason we enjoy books and movies that feature bookstores; among my favorite books Julia Glass' Three Junes and Allegra Goodman's The Cookbook Collector. And  while I have no scientific proof, my own belief is that those of us who read these books and see these movies already have a passion for the bookstores.  Bookstores are among my favorite places in the world, and I often seek them out in new cities.  And while I have yet to find one bookstore that fits my ideal, for me a great bookstore encompasses some of the following:

1. Friendly staff: alright this one isn't universally true, but I used to live near where everyone knew me. The staff always said hello and over the years I got to know them and they got to know me.  When one of our friends retired, we were sad to see her go and still keep in touch with her.  Today, I can still walk in that store once or twice a year and start up a conversation with the staff as if I never left.

2. A cultivated selection: there area my books which you might not be able to find at a smaller book store, but because the books are carefully selected you have a higher probability of picking up a good one. I'd much rather havd fewer books that are interesting than the Costco version of books.  I belong to a book club at one store where they hand pick a selection for me each month based on my interests. I've discovered done great writers this way. And with a cultivated bookshelf I can pi k something up for a present and feel fairly confident that it will be good. And for the books they don't have, I can usually order them.

3. An element of fun: good bookstores celebrate books. Some have author messages written on the walls from all the book signings; others do socials like a mystery book exchange or sale; others play with whimsy in their names or events.  Either way, bookstores that can enjoy the joy of books are great places to be.

4. Authenticity: whether crowded with books so you have to squeeze through the aisles sideways or filled with light, there is an intangible quality of authenticity in good independent bookstores that makes you want to be there. It is almost refreshing; the authenticity in the large corporate jungle. And I wish I could describe it better. For me it's a feeling of being comfortable, of knowing I can browse comfortably for hours and come away with a new book that I am going to get lost in.

5. A comfortable place to curl up: I love a store that has a cozy seating area to browse and choose, because let's be honest, not only do I intend to buy a book, I also want lots of time to browse and a cozy place to do it in.

I've been fortunate to live near some great independent bookstores (see my posthere about some of my favorites).  There is a comfort in being surrounded by books which can take you away to another world, provide solace in well-written characters, or put big ideas into compelling stories.  So, thank you to all the great bookstores out there.  I'll be in to visit soon.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (8+ / 0-)

    ------ Enjoying the gift of an ordinary day

    by DocRunning on Thu Mar 20, 2014 at 10:34:27 AM PDT

  •  I miss the great (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Louisiana 1976, Brecht

    independent bookstores of decades past. Where I live now, there's a B&N at a strip mall and a Books-a-Million at the mall mall. Borders used to be across from the mall, and it was my favorite, but we all know what happened there. As for independents: there are some used bookstores around. None of them have much of a selection of anything I want to read, although of course you never know what you'll find.

    Still, I asked after Wolf Hall by Hilary Mandel (sp?) and it was clear the owner of that particular store had never heard of it.

    English usage is sometimes more than mere taste, judgment and education - sometimes it's sheer luck, like getting across the street. E. B. White

    by Youffraita on Thu Mar 20, 2014 at 12:00:11 PM PDT

  •  Everything's better, when surrounded by books. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Louisiana 1976, Brecht

    After my first book was published I did signings at scores of independent bookstores in the South, Midwest, and California.   Many of the southern bookstores where I did signings belong to the Southern Independent Booksellers Association (SIBA).  Two weeks back I attended a SIBA meeting in Atlanta and learned a lot more about the business from a meeting of fellow authors and the owners of these stores.  We all struggle to make money, and we are in this business because of our love of literature.   If my second book, and/or subsequent works sells well enough, I hope someday to return to our family farm, write, and eventually build or buy my own bookstore.  

    I'll put on my glasses.... and tell you how sweet your ass is. (w/ apologies to Señor Bega)

    by mHainds on Thu Mar 20, 2014 at 01:12:44 PM PDT

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