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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Save the Bricks and Mortar Bookstores

Ten things to do at a bookstore in addition to (but definitely not instead of) buying books.

1) Look at the art in new children's pictures.
2) Find classics you always meant to read. Read the first paragraph.
3) Study the demographics around the magazine section.
4) Draw people reading
5) Pick up chicks/dudes
6) Consider a new hobby. Pick out a book to help you with it.
7) Buy greeting cards even though it's no one's birthday; it will be soon.
8) Cover up the outfacing copies of books you've read and didn't like, or those written by people you don't respect.
9) Turn books you like facing outward, so people will see them.
10) Ask a bookseller what his or her the name of his or her most recent favorite title

The bonus activity, of course, is stand for a minute and wonder what it'll be like when there are no more bricks-and-mortar bookstores. If all but a few stores went away and those that remained charge a browsing fee, would you pay it? (To be refunded, of course, when you buy something.)

When I was bookstore hopping Saturday for "Save A Bookstore" day, I saw (and drew) a young woman who had piled a bunch of expensive graphic-design magazines on the table where she was drinking her $4 coffee. She was flipping through in a manner that said, "Just wanna see what's in here, then I'm going to leave without buying any." This, by the way, is exactly what someone I know in the graphic design business advises people to do if they can't or don't want to subscribe to these magazines.

The other thing I witnessed, over at the little independent store Mac's Backs in Cleveland Heights, was a conversation between a customer and proprietor Suzanne DeGaetano, in which the customer seemed to have a list of books she was interested in. She said she finds the books on, then always buys them in a real bookstore.

Incidentally, the books I bought Saturday: "One Breath Apart," a strange little illustrated book about medical students and their study cadavers, and a new Weight Watchers cookbook -- because Weight Watchers has great recipes.


Maureen said...

As someone who spent over 13 years in the bookselling industry, it will be sad when the real bookstores are gone. I think in the end, the small independents will be the ones to survive. I mean, they're tough as nails; they've survived so much already! But, I do miss my Waldenbooks. It had come out of the depression with renting books for a nickel when pople couldn't afford to buy (and yes, it was named after Walden pond).

I think the problem sits with the fact that the reading audience has shrunk horribly since the 1990s. The economy did strike bookselling a hard blow as well. People like me are part of the problem too, even though I read a ton, I go to the library and borrow from friends.
Which B&N were you at? Were at the one near my new job? Sadly, I wasn't there Sat to see you though, was off and did the GardenWalk.

Clare said...

I've always liked the feeling of a bookstore. Places like Mac's Backs keep the souls of the books alive.

honey said...

i went to a sweet bookstore in chicago and bought, "go the f*ck to sleep," a fabulously illustrated fun book that i intend to give as a gift. i still write letters, make my own cards and buy the ones made by others.

at the post office, they tell me that i am the last of the letter writers. book stores and post offices....oh my.

Karen Sandstrom said...

Honey: I got "Go the F**K to sleep for Carlo for father's day. And your post office people are probably lying. I still write 'em, too!