1.10.2007

The demise of the independent bookstore

Jody at Raising WEG writes about the demise of independent bookstores that the New York Times wrote about two weeks ago. Read the comments to her two posts, too, because they're interesting.

The Abstract and the Particular
Ruined by Reading

I'm tempted to largely agree with her reasoning, even though I do have a very special place in my heart for small, independently-owned shops of all kinds. I love independent bookstores, and I try to purchase books in the following order, all other things being equal. (Sometimes other factors come into play, such as how desperately I need the book, how short I am on money, or where I happen to be geographically.)
  1. used from an independent bookstore
  2. used from Amazon
  3. new from an independent bookstore
  4. new from Amazon
  5. new from Barnes & Noble or Borders
But since Coliseum Books and Ivy's Books closed, I don't even know where I would find an independent bookstore around here. Actually, I sometimes go to Posman's at Grand Central, which fits the bill nicely. But I don't have a good source for used books in New York City at all, since I find the Strand impossible. (Most of the books that I bought used at independent bookstores were purchased in Cambridge at my much-beloved Harvard Book Store, when I lived there, before that at the also-beloved Brookline Booksmith, or while traveling to other cities since I moved to New York.)

All of this, of course, is a moot point, since I'm trying to stop buying books entirely mostly due to lack of space. (Money plays a role, too, but if you get used to the price of a latte at Starbucks, books don't seem like so much in comparison, especially purchased used.) I find the library to be more trouble than it's worth most of the time, since it closes at 6 pm on most nights and isn't open at all on Sunday. Since I already own a lot of books that I haven't read, I'm trying to read those rather than take other books out of the library or purchase more books. Sometimes I can't help myself, though...

* * * * *

In other news, I think I just chipped a tooth. With my tongue, I feel a new rough spot along the top of one front bottom tooth that definitely felt different before, but my teeth look fine in the mirror. Should I be worried? Is this what I have to look forward to as I age?

3 comments:

David said...

There are a couple of independent used bookstores near me, but the only new book stores which are not part of large chains are comic-book stores: Big Monkey and Big Planet Comics.

alg's dad said...

You said you have bought used books at Brookline Booksmith, but I thought they only sold new books. Did they open a used book section that I didn't know about? And the Harvard Bookstore, if I recall, is new books upstairs and used books in the basement, isn't it? My favorite used bookstores in the Boston area are/were the Brattle Bookstore, near Boston Common on West Street, and Starr's Bookstore, alav hashalom, which used to be in the basement of the Lampoon Building near Harvard Square, until the Lampoon decided they needed the space. They were packed with bookshelves from floor to ceiling, with only just enough space between adjacent shelves to stand there and browse. The Strand is like that too. No overstuffed armchairs, like at Barnes & Noble, taking up room that could have been devoted to more books.

ALG said...

You're right, Daddy. They didn't sell used books at Brookline Booksmith when we lived in Brookline. I guess I was thinking of the remaindered books that I bought there (at steep discount). I think they might have a used bookstore section downstairs now. At the Harvard Bookstore, the new books are upstairs and the used bookstores are downstairs.

For some reason, I find browsing at the Strand or Starr's Bookstore (before it closed) difficult. Something about the haphazard crowdedness of the shelves made it hard for me to browse. Counter-intuitive, I know. I did sometimes find things at the "Brandeis Bookstall" in Brookline.