So I went to four different independent book sellers this past weekend, purchased a book from each too. Why do I bring this up? Because with big chains dropping like flies, the little guys and gals, the mom & pop stores, become even more important. Besides, this is nothing new for me, I find the best books in those kind of places.
So Many Books, So Little Time:I have been here many times over the years. It is a small, crowded store filled with so many books, there are piles on the floor in front of the shelves. The titles are in, and I quote, 'roughly alphabetical order by author and or title, in more or less genre sections, books in piles on the floor are not.' Located in downtown Traverse City on Front street, they sell new & used books at great prices, and are always on the lookout for new titles. They do not have a website and use a circa 1950's adding machine to ring up purchases. I bought The Complete Book of Swords by Fred Saberhagen, a book I read as a youth for $3.50.
Brilliant Books: A very nice book store in Suttons Bay that sells new books and has a great selection. I discovered this place over two years ago and keep going back. It is an old building filled with some interesting titles all stacked neatly on wooden shelves. The hard wood floor slopes a bit and creaks, adding to the charm. Oh and watch out for the screen door, it snaps close behind you with a loud bang! They do have a website, click here and all the accoutrements of an upscale store, computer and all. I bought Zero History by William Gibson, a couple years ago I got Spook Country there.. must be some kind of pattern recognition going on there.
Dog Eared Pages: A very nice book store in Northport that has moved around the village a few times over the years to it's present location, a charming old building filled with slanting wooden floors that creak and the smell of old, old books. They sell new, used and rare books there, the rare books being ensconced in old roll top desks and curio cabinets. The smell of old books is ambrosia and I did not mind the temperature one bit. Mind you watch the big dog sleeping in the front room, he looks like a rug, but is in fact, just an old dog who moves very little. Couldn't blame him, it must have been over a hundred in there, but I did find a gem. They do not have a website or anything fancy ether, just a lot of cool books. I bought Roughing It by Mark Twain, a book I once owned but never finished and somehow lost.
Horizon Books: Located on Front street in downtown Traverse City, Horizons was once the old J.C. Penney store but today houses a huge variety of books, children's stuff, a coffee bar and downstairs, in the magazine section next to a second coffee bar is a small stage for local performers, jazz, local author signings, you name it. Very bright, filled with everything from Curious George to WWII History books and all points in between. I have been going there for years and have bought some fantastic books there. This time, I bought a copy of Wizard's First Rule by Terry Goodkind. Yeah I read the first book years ago, lost it and finally decided to re-read the series. You gotta start somewhere, may as well start again. They do have a website, here.
A pretty good day if you ask me. Sure I like eBooks and all that, but I do love old, independent book stores. I shop there often. I passed on the Borders sale, figured I had already hit for the cycle and my day was done. I did stop at the Leland Book Store but did not find anything. They were having an author signing which was cool, but alas, a book on the history of the western Michigan coastline, while very cool, was not in the budget.
Thats the thing about these kind of places, the hidden treasures, their unwavering support for authors, big and small, and their true love of all things books. This seperates them out from the big chains, where angst filled teens boringly punch in the numbers for your purchase, or make the latest, greatest mocha whatever. It is just not the same.
The lady at Dog Eared asked if wanted a cup of joe, she had sugar and cream. I passed, it was a bit hot for that. Nothing fancy there, and the coffee was free. Kinda cool if you ask me. The lady at So Many asked if I had any books I wanted to trade, she was always on the look out for more titles.
The fella at Brilliant said he appreciated the business a great deal, and pointed to the sign on the counter. They have a deal with online eBook sellers, if you use their name when you purchase, they get 5%. I will remember that, for sure. Horizons? Oh we spent so much we upgraded our card and got 10% off for the next year. I hope to get there before that runs out.
What these places have in common is that one thing. You know, what Curly from City Slickers said (and I paraphrase a bit here) Only one thing in life matters, that one thing. You gotta figure it out, but once you do, the rest don't mean shit.' These folks figured it out, do that one thing, and do it well.
Well enough that an interent junky like myself(who often buys eBooks), who has a Borders(soon to be closed true) a B&N and all the big box stores within five minutes, will drive 2 1/2 hours north and spend one of the hottest days in recent memory driving(at $4 a gallon for gas) all over and swelter in non air conditioned stores and really shop(guys dont shop, this guy will in a book store) and talk to the proprietors and enjoy the experience, so much so in fact that, in limited fashion on an obscure little blog, will prate on and on about a day filled with the smell of old books, creaky wooden floors, and people who love their trade to the point of manic obsessiveness with the glory of the old fashioned store.
That, my fellow wanderers, is doing that one thing right.
This is why I wander.