There is magic in discovering a good bookstore. There is nothing like walking through the aisles and discovering a book or an author you have never heard of before. Sometimes, it’s the random mix of people that causes you to meet someone new who turns you on to a genre that changes your life. It’s all possible in the bookstore. What separates the good bookstores from the great ones are the employees.
Side note: why don’t bookstore employees have a fancy name like baristas? Why should coffee shop employees have all the glory?
Anyway, back to the point, bookstore employees who are knowledgeable and who can point you in the direction of a great author by just having a conversation with you are worthy of high praise.
Truth be told, I’m partial to a healthy magazine section. I LOVE magazines. I can spend hours combing through my favorites. The best bookstores have magazines from around the world. I’m partial to Canadian and Scandinavian interior design mags. I love grabbing a stack of magazines, ordering a cup of coffee, then deciding which ones will take the trip home with me. Bookstores, especially bookstores with coffee shops attached, are my favorite places in the world.
Earlier tonight, I listened to a podcast called Annotated by Book Riot. The topic was on the resurgence of the local, independent bookstore. In the late 90s, it was widely accepted that the Barnes and Nobles and Books-a-Millions of the world would shut down and destroy the local bookstore. Everyone believed that the smaller stores wouldn’t compete and an important piece of life in America, the neighborhood bookstore, would be gone forever. For a while, it seemed as though this was true. Numbers declined, stores closed en masse. In recent years, though, the trend has reversed and independent bookstores are stronger than ever. Even with the same competition from the big box stores and with Amazon entering the fray with a brick and mortar concept, the locals are holding their own. I would like to think that after seeing the decline of the local hardware store and mom and pop shops in general, the populace said “No more!” We had to hold on to something that made local places unique and we decided that was the bookstore.
What is your favorite bookstore and why? Let me know. My dream is to road trip America (and the world) visiting bookstores (and yarn stores, but that’s a different post for a different day). What elements do you need for a good bookstore experience? Let me know in the comments or on social media. Let’s talk local!