Monday, May 14, 2012

Coping With Bookstore Withdrawal


I drove thirty minutes to get to a bookstore today. Funny thing is I didn’t even need a book, per se; I just needed a bookstore.
It wasn’t always so hard to “get my fix”. I was lucky enough to live in a town with a Borders in walking distance from our home. It was a destination for my family for years until one day it was plastered with bright yellow “Going Out of Business” posters.

As a writer, time in a bookstore is like returning to the mother ship. Sometimes it’s for inspiration. (Look at all these books that have been published. Mine will sell!) Sometimes it’s for a quick pity party. (Look at all these books that have been published. Mine must really suck!) And sometimes it’s an excuse to daydream about possibilities. (Let’s see...T...U...V...W, yep, that’s where my book will be...someday.) And sometimes it’s just as simple as I need to walk the aisles, hold a book in my hand, read the back, and get recommendations from the store’s knowledgeable employees.

I’m not saying online retailers don’t serve a purpose (full disclosure, our household has a Kindle and a Nook) and who among us hasn’t grabbed a new release off the shelves at Target when you’re there loading up on laundry detergent? But will the internet host a Harry Potter Block Party the way my local Borders did? And what about in-store events, will Sam’s Club invite 500 teenagers into the store to meet Veronica Roth like Anderson’s did? And let’s not forget the E.L. James event. I don’t know many “big box” retailers who would host the type of cocktail party/book signing that Roberta Rubin from The Book Stall held two weeks ago.

So even though I will continue to download books or toss them in my cart on the way to picking up a five pound vat of peanut butter, I will also continue my “road trips” because there’s something about a bookstore that calls to me, even from twenty miles away.

18 comments:

  1. I used to manage a bookstore in PA, so I understand this completely! I walk into one and think...ahhh the book smell, I miss you!

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    1. John Travieso_67May 14, 2012 at 6:40 PM

      I so agree with you Miss Stroop. How funny is that??? Us agreeing on something!! There really is nothing in the world quite like the smell of a bookstore. But outside of that, the feel of a good book in your hand is quite phenomenal to. iPad's, Kindles, Nooks, etc., all give us the convenience of not having to carry around stacks of novels, but a certain luster is lost in that convenience. The magical feel of a good weighty book in your hands, the feel of turning page after page, and being able to touch those pages all transport us into the story in a way that an electronic device cannot. Its almost as is being able to touch the pages enables you to touch the story, and become a part of it. Not quite ready to give up my iPad yet, but books that I enjoy, I do buy the physical copies and read them and I find that in doing so, the story is compelling on a whole different level. Makes me feel as if I'm a silent witness to a wonderful world of magic ;-)

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    2. Be still my heart, they agree on something! (By the way, very eloquently put, John) Now, who should star in the big screen adaption of "A Man and his Bookstore", Ian or William? Just kidding :)

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    3. I just saw this..
      William Levy Guy and I agreeing on this too? OH MY..this is just too much for me to handle. :)

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  2. Yes, to all the above! Especially seeing which author my book might *fingers crossed* be snuggled up against on the shelf one day.

    Libaries can feed the need as well, but yeah, there's something about picking up a book and taking it home forever. I always write my name and date inside the front cover.

    Of course sometimes people do this with library copies and that is bad, very bad.

    Great post, Ann Marie (with only one 'e')

    Cheers!

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  3. SO glad we have one in Nashville again. Thanks, Ann Patchett!

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    1. I remember when they turned the Belle Meade theatre into a bookstore...is that still there?

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    2. No! It died, then all the others did, too. And Ann Patchett (with her business partner) saved the day last year. Did you see her on Stephen Colbert? She rocked the house! http://lat.ms/zf1fAl

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    3. I read another blog post about Ann Patchett's bookstore. Sounds like an amazing place. My family thinks it's totally reasonable to plan a weekend adventure in Portland, OR, just to go to Powell's books, so I hear where y'all are coming from.
      ;)

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  4. I recently searched for a bookstore near my home. I have a Barnes and Noble about fifteen minutes away, but I was looking for something a little less corporate. I love the size and selection at B&N, browsing around and paging through new releases, but the store seems to lack that personal element that independent bookshops all have.

    I was horribly shocked to find the nearest non-corporate bookstore to me was about 40 miles away (and that B&N was the only bookstore listed in the yellow pages in my entire county, unless you count the "adult" bookstores and the listings for Goodwill and other thrift shops that turned up in my search results). Has it really come to this?

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  5. I laughed so hard at "5lb vat of peanut butter." I, too, am letting my reading preferences reach equilibrium. I do not buy as many books in print as I used to. But I think I actually buy more books overall.

    I'm at about a 50% balance between print and ebooks, and I wonder, if I went back to the bank statements--how much less am I spending on print? Is it better to spend more overall, on more books total? Spreading the wealth?

    Whereas, with my children, it is a pure split between purchased print books and library rentals. No ebooks there.

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  6. I love going to bookstores, even though I rarely ever buy anything because if I bought everything I wanted I'd be broke. Even though reading from the Kindle is more convenient, there's just something so novel about holding a real book in my hands and carrying that extra pound of weight with me.

    And I totally relate with you on the looking through the shelves part. Sometimes I look at the books on the H section and think that someday my name would be on that shelf. :D

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  7. Amen, Sister!! Nothing quite like the sweet smell of paper, glue, and coffee to bring out the inner beast! Grocery store books don't whisper at you, either. They're like the rejected, mute books that got tossed off the truck waiting for some lonely person to take them in and love them. Bookstore books are warm and inviting. Must be the lighting...

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  8. Support Independent book sellers! Here in Austin we have Book People and you are all so right in everything you've stated above. Bookstores offer community without anonymity and cocooning. We mingle and share, attend events and stumble across things we didn't even know we were looking for. We meander and peek and find a bagel recipe here, a stunning vista from a National Park there and Rolling Stones Monopoly way over there.

    When my son was little, our Saturday night entertainment was to go to the bookstore, peruse the shelves, sit down and read a book together, play with the stuffed animals on the shelves (and yes, put them away when we were done ... because teaching my son to respect the people that worked there and not make a mess was part of my job parenting). It makes me sad to think that as bookstores disappear from our landscape, so does the opportunity for young parents to make those memories that I made with my son. Makes me mourn for moments that will never be born.

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  9. I'm right there with ya Ann Marie! I have wasted many a day staring at the M's section! We've got a nearby chain, but our closest indie is a good hour away. Womp, womp!

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  10. Great post, and expresses how a lot of us feel. I noticed a trend of losing bookstores when the movie "You've Got Mail" came out. Asides from the corny remake love story, the secondary storyline of how big box bookstore forced the closing of an old neighborhood bookstore is what got me. Sad to see so many leaving, forced to close their doors.

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  11. I own an iPad and I've had an Audible. Com account for years but I do love a bookstore. Let's keep buying books and visit those great neighborhood bookstores. Laters.

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  12. I live on that pity party/inspiration roller coaster. Going to work after a bad morning of writing and seeing all the shelves stuffed with books is a fiery sweet torture! But I wouldn't have it any other way.

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