The following article actually began as a comment to a recent Literary Hub publication (http://lithub.com/bookselling-in-the-21st-century-why-even-shop-local/) that I received this morning via my email.
I admit to buying from various sellers on Amazon and ABE, but I’ll be honest, I love going to my local bookseller for new and used books. There is something about the ambiance when you walk in the door. The guys know me as a fountain pen nerd (which they sell plenty of fountain pens there) and never fail to greet me with a smile. We’ve had a couple of mix-up’s, but hey, we’re human. I think the feel of a book shop is important. This particular one (Pioneer Books in Provo, Utah) is two stories filled with I call intellectual crack. From the moment you walk in, there is the scent of books. You can’t get that on line. They have chairs placed strategically throughout. Yes, you can do this while surfing your on-line store, but it doesn’t have the same feel of taking you away from your settings into another world…the way the old libraries did and do. No one complains if you sit on the floor to peruse the stacks. Ok…you can do that with your laptop or tablet…still not the same. It’s a place that I feel at home in. You just can’t talk books and authors with the on-line sellers like you can face to face in the bookstore. You can mention an author you are found of asking if they have anything new. Immediately someone, somewhere in the store will pipe up on the last book they read by him/her or suggest something similar but unfamiliar. I’m met several new authors this way.
But it’s not just all of those things, you can physically handle a book, get the feel of it, scent of it, flip through the pages. For me a used book treat is to find personalizations from the previous owners…highlights, notes in everything from pencil, fountain pen and crayon, letters, bookmarks, photos, flowers, money (a $20 bill was a bonus at a thrift store buy…yep! Since there was no way to track the previous owner…I went back for more books.). You may get an insight into a passage that you had never thought about. Yes, it is also slightly voyeuristic, but it also gives a special life to the tome itself. No matter where I have travelled to, I always keep my eye out for the local shop. I’ve found things I’ve looked for for years that I may not have found at home.
The same thing goes for the books sales. We had the University Women’s Book Sale in Fresno, California when I lived there. I waited eagerly for it to happen every year so I could pay the “get-in-early” fee and spend an evening at my favorite addiction, and that includes one particular Halloween night that I left the kids and husband at home to fend for themselves! More than once back in the 1990’s, I came home with a whole full sized Ford Taurus truck load of books for $60.00, many of which I still own today. WhenI lived near Reno, Nevada, I did the same thing at the Washoe Library Book Sale in the Fall and Spring. I bought a complete 21 volume hardbound collection of Algernon Charles Swinburne for $20.00! There is nothing like it if you are a bibliophile.
If you’ve never taken the time to haunt your local new/used bookseller, do so, the experience may well be worth your time and you will probably meet some new authors, bring home some great reads, and make some new friends with common interests. If it isn’t a store to your liking (I avoid any that reek of mildew…compromises the books), find another one, even if it is in the next town. A good bookseller is worth their weight in gold. Use the mildew one as a desperate last measure look if you have to.
I say hurray! for the new and used local bookstores.