Tuesday, May 25, 2010

As American as Cherry Pie - In Praise of independent bookstores
Talk | By An n Patchett, New York Times, May 2, 2010

I imagine there are plenty of people who travel around the country going to baseball games, and that those people can tell you everything there is to know about the motels near the various stadiums and the quality of the chili dogs. What they know of America’s cities they know insofar as it relates to the game: the convenience of the parking, the freshness of the popcorn. Over time, the things that make us travel can also give us a certain kind of expertise. It could be amusement parks, Civil War battlefields, marinas, museums.

For me it’s independent bookstores. Sure, I occasionally go to a city to speak at a library or college, but most of my travel is bookstore-based. I am a novelist, and when I’m not at home writing a book, I tend to be sitting at a small table in the back of a bookstore trying to sell it. I can tell you who has the best selection of birthday cards, who is still serious about poetry, who’s got unusual coffee table books. It isn’t just that I dip in and out of bookstores. I stay there for hours looking at the inventory. At the end of the night, I’ll go to some hotel I won’t remember, eat a grilled cheese sandwich at the bar, and then the next morning I’ll fly to another city to see another bookstore. I can remember the fiction sections, the new releases table — I just can’t remember which store was in which town. Like the baseball fan, I blur the details of anything outside the parking lot. Except in this particular story.
Full story at NYT.

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