My husband and I browsed silently in the literature section.
The other two shoppers were a mother and daughter. They were talking wistfully about a book or movie in which two people meet in a bookstore and fall in love. (Notting Hill? You've Got Mail?)
So I was stumped. No idea what romantic bookstore movie/book they were talking about.
Did I ever meet a paramour at a bookstore? Sadly, no. At far more predictable places than that.
Bookstores are not romantic, but they are my favorite places. At A Likely Story (I've changed the name, because you won't be flying in to this tiny town anyway), you can have a chat with the owner. He really knows books.
He'll also talk about the business, though you don't have to chat if you don't want to.
We bought $30 worth of books, and that seemed pretty thrilling to him. I gushed about finding two books I'd never heard of, H. G. Wells's Christina Alberta's Father and Christopher Isherwood's Down There on a Visit. The internet has taken away something of the joy of serendipitous discovery.
The owner of A Likely Story said he is a member of a bookstore chat website, and that two small used bookstore owners told him they are going out of business this month.
"The smallest rent increase can do a bookstore in."
It seems the things most worth doing are not profitable. I have known bookstore owners who live in their stores.
There are no small used bookstores left in Our Otherwise Very Nice City. When B&N goes, we'll be stuck with a couple of lovely people's tax-write-off spaces that are smaller than my living room.
I have also felt a pang of nostalgia about Borders lately. A former student, a vivacious bookseller at Borders for many years, died of cancer last spring, a year after Borders closed. If Borders were still open he might be alive (health insurance), and he would be in his element this time of year. I have to imagine that in an alternate universe he is still working at Borders, quoting The Shadow of the Wind (Cemetery of Books # 1) to customers:
“Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens.”