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. . . .