Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Likely Story: The Day after Black Friday at the Used Bookstore

 At A Likely Story, a small used bookstore in a nearby town, four people were shopping.

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?)

Notting Hill
I should have asked, but I wasn't up to speed because I have a cold.  I didn't have my reporter's notebook with me, so I couldn't pretend to be a reporter. And I never admit to anyone I have a blog.  

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.”  


Susan D said...

I suspect it's that Meryl Streep/Robert de Niro 1984 film, Falling in Love.

Um, why not name the bookstore? Even if we don't fly in, someone might actually be there on other matters.

Frisbee said...

Thank you, I am so excited! I have never seen this movie. Anything with a bookstore...