I am listening to David Ramirez and browsing online through Barnes & Noble’s Bargain book section, because I’m cool like that. Every now and then I take a detour from my store browsing to spend a few hours looking online for some reads that are usually hidden away under the bargain sticker. But shopping from the bargain section is risky. On my birthday, I ordered two fiction books and two memoirs. The first fiction book was awesome, the second I put down after dragging my eyes through the first five pages. I have started the first memoir but I am still working my way through it (not s good sign). But I do see a few tonight that seem to be interesting, like Shine Shine Shine, A Bartender’s Tale, Blame, and The Golden Hour, have you read any of these?
As I pass by some and click on others, I wonder to myself: what is it that people look for in their books? What determines my picking and choosing? Shallowly, before I look at the book’s description, it’s the cover that I notice first. Usually it’s the cover that makes me click it to see what it’s about. Perhaps we could insert the whole “Don’t judge a book by its cover” thing, but on the other hand I think marketing strategy- design a cover that attracts attention. But way beyond the cover, how I ultimately choose my books is based on what it is I am looking for in that book. According to my cart, most of the novels I pick are essentially about being human. They all have universal themes of struggle and relationships of all kinds. I guess that makes sense why I enjoy memoirs and nonfiction so much, because I like to read about the real journey. I do enjoy other genres of books, but it seems I resort to the stories that take place in boring towns with characters who have normal occupations and are living regular lives- and in the boring lives of these less-glamorous people is where the true picture of humanness is displayed: sickness, relationships, struggles, death, conflict, victory, dreaming, healing, running. And that picture of being human is what I feel connected to.
Then my second thought as I look at the books in my ‘cart’ is, how many people purchase their books online versus in a bookstore? I have spilt opinions on this subject, as I assume many readers do. I recently just purchased The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows at retail price in Barnes and Noble. I did have a 20% off coupon plus my membership, but if I really wanted to save $3 I could have ordered it online and waited 4-5 days for it to be delivered. It was a tough decision, and I did the awful awful thing of finding the book in the store and then automatically checking online to see how much cheaper it was. If I’m not in a hurry to read the book, I’ll order it online and casually wait for it to arrive. But when I really want to read the book, I feel this call of duty to honour the bookstore by paying the extra couple bucks and purchase it there. I feel like I have to protect the stores, FIGHT FOR THEM to stay alive, to keep their doors open, so they can keep offering this lovely building I go to so often to see and touch and skim and smell- (yes), and dream about what book to read. I don’t want the bookstores to close. I know it’s cheaper online. I know I know I 1000 times know, BUT, but…. the bookstores, such precious places, right? I do not want to use them solely as a show room. So I do a dance back and forth with purchasing online and in the store. I don’t want to live in an online world where I rely completely on this distant place that further enables me to live off the cuff of convenience. This post was not meant to be a #supportthebookstores discussion, but sometimes thoughts go that way, and anyhow, I still need that place where I can sit down and drink a extra hot latte while skimming through seven books.
Main thoughts of the night: 1) What do you look for in a book? and 2) Where do you buy your books?
Looking for you again by Matthew Perryman Jones just came on Spotify, I loved it.
Back to browsing!