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Oh I just thought of another. The Last Bookstore in downtown Los Angeles. I only discovered this place a year ago and, come to think of it, the tunnel of books there is like an adult version of the other bookstore I loved as a kid that I just commented about.

This bookstore is amazing though. It's got separate rooms, two floors, and the top floor is this winding path through unique bookcases and little passages of books. There are rooms off to the side with different genres and all kinds of decorations. And the top floor also has artist spaces, little shops, and more delights. It's so good. There's also a record section for people into vinyl.

Hard recommend for anyone visiting LA. It's around the corner from Grand Central Market which is a great place to get a variety of yummy food too.

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I thought I’d been to every bookstore in L.A. before I left, but I missed this one. I must visit it on my next trip.

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Definitely!

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My favourite bookshop is called St. George’s. It’s on a cobblestone street around the corner from where I live, and one of the few which carry exclusively English titles in Berlin. Before ordering a book online, I always check to see if St. George’s has it in one of their 15-foot shelves (there are sliding ladders so you can access the top shelves). Or I email them to see if they can order it. They usually reply within an hour and can get most titles within a week. There’s an old-school café and a Japanese shaved ice cream shop across the street—two great spots for getting into a new book.

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This sounds dreamy. Any bookshop with sliding ladders is a win for me!

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An obscenely large cat!

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😂😂 please tell me more

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Perfectly plump. Does not move. Grey.

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LOL. This description is everything.

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I have a photo of precisely this cat at Shakespeare and Company :)

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My favorite bookshop is Persnickety Books in Burlington, NC. Partly, it's because they sell used books for either $4 (paperback) or $5 (hardcover). Partly, it's because they host events and offer their space for free to writers for signings and readers for book clubs. Partly, it's because everything is disorganized and impossible and haphazard in an endearing human way. It's certainly because there are three floors arranged against all logic but with plenty of quiet nooks, seats, and windows.

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Persnickety Books might be the best name for a bookshop I’ve ever heard

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It is a particularly good title for a particular and good place. I wish every bookshop made it a point to be particular, charming, disorganized, and gigantic.

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Baltimore is lucky to have at least three locally owned bookshops - The Ivy, Bird in Hand, and Red Emma’s (cooperatively owned!). Each is wonderful in its way. The Ivy is in an old house, beautifully curated, wide range from kids to travel to poetry to books on writing. Bird in Hand has a superb bakery and coffee and very tall ceilings with rolling ladders. Red Emma’s is crawling with anarchists - need I say more?! 🥰

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Haha I didn’t take you for an anarchist, Julie

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I'm coming around to it. . . .

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Would love to know what anarchist architecture might look like

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Plenty of fine examples on Zillow! 😂😱

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What’s Zillow?

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There’s also this, which started as the blog McMansion Hell. The writer, Kate Wagner, is clever and sarcastic. https://instagram.com/mcmansionhell?igshid=MzRlODBiNWFlZA==

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I love that you don’t know Zillow! It’s a house real estate listing website. People get hooked on just looking at houses on it. There’s even this Instagram of the craziest houses. https://instagram.com/zillowgonewild?igshid=MzRlODBiNWFlZA==

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I’m in dc! I’ll have to take a bookstore day trip. Thanks!

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Oooo. DC has some great bookstores too. Politics and Prose!

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I love red Emma’s and bird in hand 🩵 There’s also greedy reads, which has a special place for me - I profiled the owner for Baltimore magazine in 2018!

Nothing like a Baltimore bookstore, so glad you mentioned these, Julie

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Oh, yeah! I didn't think of Greedy Reads, b/c I haven't been there yet. Looks like we have an embarrassment of riches.

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My favourite bookshop is like a hidden world. It’s a really small, unassuming cornershop that has a cat in it. Yet, it has the best prices in the country for books in English, and a pair of very devoted owners who keep up with the various longlists/shortlists, one for the spec fic crowd, the other for people leaning more “literary”. In a word, it has everything!

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There seemed to be so many bookshops in Bucharest! So many lovely ones too.

Though have to say, can’t remember the name of it, but found the big famous one in the old town quarter not as good as some of the other ones in the old villas. Too many tourists taking selfies in there!

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Carturesti Carousel, yeah! I’ve just been there today. Honestly, Carturesti was great in its beginning, but nowadays everything is ridiculously expensive, and people often go there for wine and gifts more than for books.

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deletedSep 18, 2023Liked by M. E. Rothwell
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Haha I didn’t take you for an anarchist, Julie

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My favorite bookshop exists only as an after thought, a phantom on the sideroad. In other words, in the past. My favorite bookshop exists in my and many other peoples' memories. It was called Beauty and the Books and was located smack dab in the middle place of the row of important shops on "The Ave" in Seattle's University District. It was one of the first establishments I began to frequent when I moved to the District to attend college the State University. It was one of those bookshops that was in a very old building, had a cat or two roaming about, a dirty old man purveyor, and a young beautiful girl who every hippie/alternative/emo boy had a crush on. This particular bookshop was true to its name. Richard, the owner, while he never managed to shake that dirty old man vibe, I found rather interesting in his role of resident beast. When one visited the store you would encounter him or any of a number of young women. He only hired young women, thus the moniker. However, the most beautiful of the young women was a girl of about 22. She had one of those faces that wasn't strikingly beautiful, but evidenced not a single flaw. Her big eyes and full lips, I'm sure, inspired many boys and men and young women inspired many daydreams of wedded bliss. What made her beautiful though was the gentlest of demeaners even in the face of crippling misfortune. For she had only one arm. In the place of an arm was a prosthetic arm. The kind that had a pincher where a hand should be. Despite this, what would be an intense blow to most anyone else, was to her an inconvinience, a sore shoulder muscle from the leather harness that fixed the arm to her petite torso. If anything, the absence of an arm that in the face of this most cruel joke was replaced by a contraption, only served to underscore her grace, her strength, and her angelic ability to meet this challenge God had tasked her with. The store itself was a treasure. One could find valuable magazines from the 1930's through the 1970's, such as "A Boy's Life" published in 1932. And of course old books were everywhere, along with occasional other kinds of items, which Richard intuited *someone, *somewhere may collect. The book I found there that I most valued was a collection of poems, stories, and essays from a Literary magazine called "Transitions." It was printed during the 1930's and undertook the role of being a bridge between the American literary artists and the ex-patriot literary artists that now lived in Spain and Paris. So yes. Beauty and the Books encompassed what many may describe as an eclectic array of characteristics that endeared it to many customers. One that I learned of late in the game was that Richard owned not just the bookstore but part of, if not the whole, building. So most of the twenty-something year old employees of the coffee shop, the bookshop, and the comic book shop lived above the shops in a collection of single bedroom apartments said to possess "charm." In other words run down, but cheap. Bookshops of this nature existed in every University neighborhood across America in the 1980's clear up into the early 1990's. But by 2000 it seemed they were all gone.

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Yes good books are a given and then a nice coffee shop with places to sit and read or work that exudes a quiet energy. Subtle noises of the other patrons and workers and absolutely no people taking a phone call while on speaker phone. So good books, cup of coffee and community.

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Books, coffee, and nice people is winning combination in life, as well as in a bookshop

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We’ll if you’re ever out this way it’s called Bookworks and it’s in lovely Pacific Grove, California. It’s not big but it’s cozy and bright.

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How to pick a favorite should be the question! Westsider Books and Strand (both in Manhattan) and Sundog Books (in Seaside, Florida) come immediately to mind. The greater the air of mystery and magic, the better. Pleasant, helpful staff. Comfortable places to sit and write or stare out the window.

Honestly, though, I treasure a trip to Barnes and Noble for the nostalgia and immediate sense of comfort it brings. Our local store was one of the only other places besides school, church, and outside where I felt safe and hopeful as a teen -- like there was a way out and forward, for me, in life.

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The Strand is wonderful. I try to visit it whenever I’m in NYC.

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Ironically it just occurred to me all three of the named places have nowhere to sit and write 🤣 The Drama Bookshop in Manhattan is much better for that -- great coffee too!

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Sep 18, 2023Liked by M. E. Rothwell

I honestly have a favorite bookshop everywhere I go! But the first that comes to mind is the Center for Fiction in Brooklyn. It's an incredible, two-story place with an outdoor patio on the second floor. The first floor has a bookstore and a cafe, and the second floor has a quiet members-only space for writers. The writing rooms have huge windows with tons of sunlight, and it's such a peaceful and productive place for me to go and write. They also often have events and bring in authors. Oh AND they have a library where you can check out books and do research! It's incredible.

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That sounds dreamy. It’s so nice to have a place where you can sit and just be surrounded by books. Maybe drink a coffee, maybe read a bit, maybe draw. Or maybe just sitting and thinking about how nice bookshops are

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Sep 18, 2023Liked by M. E. Rothwell

it truly is dreamy! bookshops are a gift.

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Green Apple Books in San Francisco has hosted some of my favorite authors, and they carry my zine 😛

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Well if they carry your zine then they must have the utmost taste

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The one that immediately came to mind doesn't exist anymore but it was a spot in Tucson where I grew up that we knew because my dad was a woodworker who built some of their shelving. What made it special was that there was this little staircase down to a tiny tunnel that ended in a cozy nook and it was designed to be a space for children to come read while their parents browsed. Adults could squeeze in there but it was really a children's special place and I have fond memories of taking my younger siblings down there.

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I want to be a child again so I can go and read in that book nook in Tucson

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And tonight you shall! The well-loved-book fairy will visit you tonight. If a boy or a girl is especially good to their books, taking care of them, or even writing notes in the margins because it shows how you loved that book and made it yours and nobody else's. She goes to these children and adults, too, houses and sprinkle's them with the dust she's collected that people have blown off old books. She sprinkles them with her dust and this makes dreams of their fondest, bookiest wishes. Those people who are bad to their books, throwing them into the dustbin, rather than passing them on to friends, or worse burning them, have a special encounter with the well-loved-book fairy. She puts the ashes of all those censured burned books into their eyes and they have gruesome dreams of cruel librarians who never let the people check any books out. This she gives to them who do not see a book for what it is, a creation that from the wellspring of the human collective, reveals their deepest dreams and most frightful challenges, but ultimately leads them on to discover new dreams. And tonight she visits you, M.E.

Thus spake Runcible the Good Witch.

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That sounds lovely! My kiddo is three years old and loves books, and I now view bookstores through an entirely different lens than I did as a single non-parent. And that lens is shaped by the question of: "What are you doing for kids?"

There's a used bookstore just a few blocks from me here in Seattle that my wife and I used to frequent. It's a bit disheveled. A bit outdated. A bit dirty. I feel silly tossing this word around, but it really is a bit grungy. And, it's great. But their kids section is, well, quite sad. So we just really don't go there anymore.

There are plenty of bookstores that just really don't take it into consideration. But then there are some, of course, like the one you're describing, that beyond just considering it, prioritize it.

Anyway, the store you're describing sounds wonderful. What a fun way to build great foundational memories with young readers. Sad to learn that it's no longer in existence.

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It was really sad when that one closed but Tucson does still have a strong bookstore scene. I wonder if you mentioned to the place that you'd love to see the children's section spruced up if they would do it? I don't even have kids but I love when a bookstore treats the kids area almost like libraries do - really caters to the children with colors and seating and designs and storytelling events.

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Same! I love that, too. It could be worth mentioning to them, definitely. My kiddo just got her first library card as well, and she's been looooving that experience as well.

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The Barnes and Noble at Alderwood has a really good kids area. Let's hope there are no "politics" compelling people to acts of wanton reading there!

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My favorite book store is located in my home town of Wausau, Wisconsin and it is literally the oldest book store in our state. It has a little bit of everything and has been owned and operated by the same family since 1874. Besides books it carries a wide variety of puzzles, cards, and other unique gifts. The service is outstanding and I'm so glad it has so far survived the "Amazon" world we live in! https://www.jankebookstore.com/

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I really truly believe bookshops like that one will never go out of business. The patrons love them too much (I hope)

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My favorite bookshop now exists only in my mind. But what made it so special when it was open was that it was hidden under a bridge, a secret mostly English-language bookshop, except for a short wall of local authors whose foreign books printed in English, so monolinguists could read them, too. Perhaps sometime in the future, I'll open my own bookshop in emulation of this one that was closing just as I discovered it.

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Was this in Prague by any chance?

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Sep 18, 2023·edited Sep 18, 2023Liked by M. E. Rothwell

It was! So many wonderful secrets in and around those bridges.

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Used, dirty, beautiful, used books in a creepy basement. The only downside is the owners won't let me into the storage area where the rest of the books are. Same with the local library. I keep asking to see the room with the used books they haven't yet put out for sale but to no avail.

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Think you’re justified in breaking into that secret room, Corey

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I think so too. I've been mistaken for an employee there twice, and once at the library because I was organizing books on a shelve, a habit—not a habit at home, though.

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There’s a used book store called McKays that I love.

It is organized in a way that makes you think they changed their mind on the system about 5 times while setting up.

You can find the same book in 2-3 sections throughout the store.

And because it’s a used book store, the pricing is just as random.

To me, this is all positive, because it rewards the hunters.

If I find a book I want in one section for $8, I know if I keep looking I’ll find another copy in some obscure corner for $4.

What a rush, book buying and a treasure hunt all in one

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The thrill of the hunt! Best way to find books you never would otherwise have come across

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Sep 28, 2023Liked by M. E. Rothwell

I’m new to your publication but so loving it thus far.

My favourite book shops need vintage couches.

Actually, the best bookshop I’ve ever been in,

Was a HUGE metal shed painted black in the farm land of the south west of Western Australia.

Windows stretched up the front and as you walked in you could see a huge staircase to the mezzanine / large loft. Lined with gifted books and vintage chairs and rugs. Under the loft was more seating and a fireplace.

A cafe was included, cakes and coffees and teas. It was all very antique and English though in Australia. Felt like a mix of hogwarts... with brooms and cauldrons scattered around. The back doors lead out to stunning gardens and nooks to sit and read and sip tea.

Favourite place ever

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Oh man that place sounds incredible!

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Sep 24, 2023Liked by M. E. Rothwell

A good bookstore is one with a good bathroom..just kidding!!!!! But am I? ;)

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At least you’d know there’d be no shortage of reading material

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Sep 24, 2023Liked by M. E. Rothwell

I like when they have a lil potpourri reminiscent of grandma, a brass kind of shelf with a solitary flower, black and white tile, and a lil window with a crack of sunlight, but mostly shady inside, extra points for a mirror with good optics

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My local indy is Chaucer's in Santa Barbara Ca. The staff is so knowledgeable especially in the children's and YA. It's a small store, but the shelves are really high so it feels like you can hide from the word. There's also great parking and they open at 9am. I'm seriously considering applying for a part time position for the holidays. I'd probably spend my whole paycheck on books, but I think it would be such an interesting job.

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Recently visited Trident Booksellers and Cafe on Newbury Street in Boston and, three hours later, left feeling inspired and like maybe the world wasn’t actually going to hell. Did I mention my 16 yr old daughter was with me? She happily lost herself among the stacks and stacks of anime and literature and bought some of both. It was a good day.

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I don't think anyone has mentioned Powell's in Portland, Oregon yet so I'll be the first. It's simply wonderful.

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My favourite bookshop was a second-hand nook that I visited when I was 13 in search of girls' comics. Perhaps such shops don't exist anymore; it was 50 years ago when British comics like "Pixie", "Mandy" and "Tammy" were still being sold in South Africa and I could still read in the normal manner. Nowadays, my visual impairment means I must rely on audio books, but I still fantasise about browsing in bookshops, scratching through piles of second-hand novels and biographies, and coming across a much-loved children's book or out-of-print gem. For me, bookshops symbolise my connection with childhood joys and longings because they turn my attention back to who I am when no-one else is looking and I can curl up in a corner with a peanut butter sandwich and escape into possibility. Wonderful!

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So I've got three - sorry :) This is a great question for us bibliophiles! Thanks, Mikey!

1. The Concord Bookshop - Concord, Massachusetts -- not too far from home, so a shop I grew up with. It has history, having hosted many authors who float in to do talks and signings as well as the many authors who live in Concord, the birthplace of Transcendentalism and a generally rich literary history. https://www.concordbookshop.com/ The shop's floor creaks as you move around and there is a special shelf sourced of local books (endless Thoreau, Emerson, Alcott...). The kids' section in the back is also really well curated.

2. Daunt Books, London (Marlybone) -- also a rich history, but originally travel books, which still take up most of the shelf space around an oblong wooden balcony. The staff picks are great as are the tote bags, one of which I have made into my 'purse.'

3. L'Écume des Pages, Paris 6e -- such a fine shop with books you need to get on the ladder to seek. Also great sections on art, kids, and stationery. (French and Japanese paper! Although there are bigger stationery shops...this one has a refined selection.)

Also Books Are Magic in Brooklyn is 🔥 (my bff lives around the corner, so I make an annual pilgrimage) and Bertrand in Lisbon is just GORGEOUS but feels too surreal and touristic to be a homey shop for me (plus I am not frequently in Lisbon!).

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Daunts is my all time favourite bookshop. Will have to make it to the other two you’ve mentioned here too, if they can make it on the same list as Daunts

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They are different but just as good. Are we twinning with our tote bags then? ;)

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We are indeed!

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I have to say that if anyone treated such wonderful old books like the ones in the painting, they should be struck off the bibliophile list forever!

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😳

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192 Books is a few blocks from my house. I often go in while walking my dog, though she gets overexcited at the thought of the treats behind the counter. I love it because it’s mine—near enough to go almost every day, and because it’s tiny but deep. Generous stacks of books in translation, one of the best poetry sections in the city, lots of books on contemporary art. It’s a perennial source of inspiration.

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Since I lived most of my life in Toronto, here are my favourite two:

(Obviously, they are both gone by now )

Nicholas Hoare looks back at bookstore's 40 years

https://www.blogto.com/arts/2013/02/nicholas_hoare_looks_back_at_bookstores_40_years/

Open Air Books and Maps - The Planisphere˚ (johnzada.com)

https://www.johnzada.com/planisphere/used-bookstores-toronto-open-air-books-maps/

Let me tell you about my first visit to Open-air books and maps

It happened shortly after I discovered V. S. Naipaul. I went there for maps for our SE Asia trip, but once I was there, I asked about "Among the believers" which I could not find anywhere else. The guy there said sorry, but I am just helping out my father, he will be back soon. Just as he was finishing the sentence, his father stepped in, so I asked him.

Now look at the picture of the store in the article linked above. Every shelf in the store had two rows of books. He went to one of the shelves, with his left hand he grabbed a few books from the front row, reached behind and pulled out the book I was looking for. How can you not adore and cherish a place like that?

It closed two years later.

Nicholas Hoare, the smartest bookstore in Toronto lasted a year longer.

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The late, great Bookman's Corner in Chicago. RIP John Chandler, proprietor.

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I have two. Toppings in Edinburgh and Reids in Liverpool.

Toppings is filled from floor to ceiling over two floors with little rooms and nooks and cranies everywhere. Tea and coffee free as you browse. Esoteric and rare books that would be hard to find anywhere except Amazon and even then you could pay a premium.

Reids is a second-hand bookshop that stocks everything from old Star Trek novels to Loeb Classics Library to essay collections from the 1800s, old cookery books, textbooks, and tomes on Chinese medicine (in Chinese). Again floor to ceiling shelving. At Christmas the owner will have a selection of tipples for customers who are buying books. If you want something specific leave him with the title and he'll find a copy from somewhere eventually.

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I love Smith & Son in Paris. There is a tea shop and a little British shop where you can buy all of your favorite British goodies. And of course, there are the books and books and books....

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I love it already

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I’m an used book store only guy. I’ve got an almost fetish like appreciation of older used texts, especially how they smell.

I especially like finding books festooned with underlines and notes, which allows for some weird time traveling friendships, or enemies. How can you underline that, you fool!

Recently I found a copy of my book in an used book store in western Massachusetts, and so I opened it, and wrote in it “To Hugh: I hope you treasure this forever. Signed Chris Arnade”; then returned it to the shelf.

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The poetry of that note! The next owner will assume a tragedy has taken place, I love it. I share the love for old books. Finding an old copy covered in notes is like peering into someone’s brain. Why did they underline this bit, what were they thinking at the time? So good

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My favorite book store closed when the Basque owner died a few years ago. He had a vast collection, but specialized in Idaho first editions. Most readers no longer know the work of Vardis Fisher, an Idaho native who was fairly prolific, and the owner of my favorite bookstore bought from his widow all of he remaining boxes of Fisher’s new first editions. What could I do? I bought an entire collection of Fisher’ first editions instead of a set of car tires. Priorities.

He even had a fairly worn 1854 edition of Walden for just under a thousand dollars. I wish I bought it. Too late now, though, but I learned this week that a National Atlas of Malawi that I bought years ago is worth a thousand dollars. Opportunity but no money, or money and no opportunity. Life.

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That copy of Walden sounds amazing! And the Atlas of Malawi! I’d be useless at collecting all these old rare books because I could never bring myself to sell.

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There aren’t many old books I want. Mainly, a good copy of the 1854 first edition of Walden. I think he had a thousand copies printed and he liked to humble brag about his extensive library, and of the nine hundred [unsold] volumes in it that he wrote himself.

Besides, I can get so many old books free on Project Gutenberg for my Kindle. Even if the old book smell and feel aren’t there, all the words are the same, and words, which somehow became a thing called content, are the main point of a book. Maybe Kindle will someday figure out a way to add aerosol old book smell and make touch screens that feel like parchment.

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Sep 18, 2023Liked by M. E. Rothwell

It's in Vienna, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, DC. It's on a quiet little offshoot of Main Street. Everything is in meticulous order. There is a wonderful mix of the classics and newer publications. And the owner is an ENCYCLOPEDIA of literature. She engages, asks what you're looking for, makes suggestions . . . and is always right. It's a gem of a store the likes of which one doesn't find in the U.S. too often anymore.

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What I’m realising from reading this thread is I like bookshops in perfect order, I like bookshops that are an absolute mess. I like big ones and small ones. Ones with cafes and ones covered in dust. I just really really like bookshops 😅

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Wait...I’m in DC. What’s the shops name?

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Sep 18, 2023Liked by M. E. Rothwell

https://www.bardsalley.com/ in Vienna.

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Thank you! I’ll make a drive out there this weekend.

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Take a selfie and put it on notes if you do!

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Haha only for you all!

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I love the character of a place. Some places have walls that speak silently about the writers who have roamed those locations, the people who have visited that place. Resilience is also an important trait. Running a bookstore these days is not an easy feat. I think bookstores are the perfect reflection of a city's soul. I wrote an article about my visit to Shakespeare and Co in Paris. You can just feel the history in that place. There are plenty of excellent bookstores in Belgrade, Serbia, which is the leading publishing center in the Balkans.

Here is the link to the article:

https://nenadgeorgievski.substack.com/p/parisian-reverie-unveiling-the-magic

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Ah I am heading to Belgrade in a couple of months so this is excellent news!

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Elliott Bay Book Company here in Seattle is my favorite. It's a three-level shop in the heart of the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Wonderful selection (including kids books), great staff (and staff recommendations), lovely cafe with delicious coffee and treats.

They host performances by authors passing through in the basement, which offers a cozy, intimate area in which to spend time with extremely talented folks (their bookings are really quite impressive).

There's a lot of room to roam in the store. It's very open. The ceilings are high. Yet it's a very inviting place, full of natural light and, I have to say, with a hardwood floor you can't help but fall in love with.

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Multilevel bookshops are so good because you can feel totally justified in browsing for hours and hours

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100%. And wow does that time fly.

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I don't have a favourite. Every bookshop I'm in is my favourite while I'm in it. In the days when I used travel frequently to London it was Daunt's in Marylebone. At home here it's a local three store chain called Winstone's. They're pleasant and helpful and have a great order service that is super-fast. When I lived in Oxford it was Blackwell's (of course). Exeter Waterstones is good. A good bookshop has to have chairs. It has to have tables with an enticing array of titles. It should have coffee and a place to sit while you're drinking it, and it might have a cat but it's not compulsory. Assistants who are widely read and enthusiastic are essential.

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Daunts is my answer! Love how they organise stuff by country/region in there, instead of genre. Have found so many interesting reads in there I would never have come across otherwise!

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Second Daunts! It has the BEST range at the back & downstairs. It’s a goldmine for translated fic I always love going in there to hunt for books I’ve never seen or heard of before. And it always delivers

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I bought several of my favourite ever books in there. Love that shop so much

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In every bookstore I have loved, that little something magic is the person who owns the bookstore. The person who would (many times) much rather read all the books in the store themselves, rather than be bothered trying to sell it to me. The one who can remember what I may likely enjoy, based on what I’ve bought in the past. Those recommendations usually are designed to surprise me. And the collection of books is completely unexpected, interspersed with ‘stuff’ that belongs to the owner - so you know this is not a ‘bookstore’. This is a space where books are sold, ideas and laughter and wisdom exchanged, thought created, and silence instilled.

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