Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tuesday Thingers: Favorite Bookstores and Book Shopping

This week, Boston Bibliophile has a really interesting topic for the Tuesday Thingers group:

Favorite bookstores. What's your favorite bookstore? Is it an online store or a bricks-and-mortar store? How often do you go book shopping? Is your favorite bookstore (or bookstores) listed as a favorite in LT? Do you attend events at local bookstores? Do you use LT to find events?

Well, I'm tempted to say my favorite bookstore is just the one I happen to be in at the moment. Any bookstore is better than no bookstore, right? And I go shopping as often as possible, either online or in "real" bookstores – usually at least once or twice a week. Of course, shopping doesn't always mean purchasing (my husband will be glad to hear that).

These days, I'm really kind of sorry to admit, the majority of my book shopping takes place online. High rents have driven most of the independent and used-book stores out of our area. So if I shop in a "real" store, it's likely to be the local Border's or Barnes & Noble. And if I'm going to do my shopping in a chain store, I figure I might as well check out Amazon first – and, of course, they almost always have the best prices and free shipping. Actually, I think Amazon is pretty much set to take over the world. At least the world of retail shopping. You can buy everything there – I just bought a swimsuit and a pair of bedroom slippers from Amazon. You can buy groceries from Amazon. You can buy plumbing fixtures.

But I digress.

I suppose my favorite bookstore would have to be Blackwell's in Oxford, but it's been many years since I was last able to pay it a visit. I also used to like the Dillon's bookstore on Gower Street in London, but I'm not even sure it's still there. (I've written an earlier blog post about my favorite no-longer-there bookstore, Brock's Books in San Antonio TX. See Doomsday.) And then there's the Strand in NYC, of course. Always fun to visit. Not what it once was, but then what is?

Around home, I have a couple of local Borders and Barnes & Nobles that I frequent. And in addition to Amazon, I like Daedalus Books & Music for online and mail order shopping. When I was working in DC, I used to like to browse Kramerbooks and Second Story Books. But again, I haven't really shopped at either of those for several years now.

Lately, I have managed to find a few interesting used-book stores not too far from where I live. There's a Book Rack in the Kingstowne area of Alexandria – they have good prices and huge selections of sci-fi and mystery fiction (they divide their mystery books into two sections, by male or female authors). And there's a tiny place called Already Read Used Books, near Old Town Alexandria. They have higher prices, but the atmosphere is very pleasant (there's a resident tabby cat) and the whole experience is like browsing in someone's rather disorganized book-filled attic.

I think I do have most of my favorite stores listed on my profile page at LibraryThing – I'll have to check that. So far, I haven't really used LT for finding local events. I'm not actually much of an event-goer – I've made plans to attend the National Book Festival two years in a row now, and talked myself out of going two years in a row. But maybe this year. . . .


  1. Yes... I still have warm-fuzzies from reading about Brocks :-)

    I did not know you could buy so much at Amazon... I couldn't help but think of Bentley Little's The Store when I read this.

  2. hee hee - I think my last Amazon order contained books, clothing, and snacks - it's hard not to love a place where you can purchase all the necessities at once. =)

  3. Amazon is definitely taking over the world. I primarily use it for books, but I tend to find it a good place to look first for practically anything to see if it's cheaper there.

  4. I'm trying to talk myself into planning for the National Book Festival...maybe we should make a shared goal of it.

  5. Yes, Amazon is amazing. I have taken to buying old movies and tv series from Amazon. A has even taken to shopping there and that is really something!

  6. It's hard to believe Amazon sells so much! I only buy books and movies from them though :)

  7. It's been awhile since I've ordered from Amazon, but it is great - especially on those hard-to-find books.

  8. I'm definitely going to the National Book Festival now that I've found out that Philippa Gregory will be there. :) Maybe we can plan on bumping into each other there. It would be fun to meet someone IRL.

  9. readerville--
    Yes, that might be a good idea - I need somebody to keep me on track. Actually, it's usually my husband who wrecks all my plans at the last minute!

    Gee, maybe we could get a family group discount or something!

  10. literatehousewife--
    That's a thought. Maybe there needs to be a National Book Festival group at LibraryThing.

  11. Hey! I've tagged you for a book buzz meme. Click here to read my post.


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