Visiting Bookstores

“What I say is, a town isn’t a town without a bookstore. It may call itself a town, but unless it’s got a bookstore it knows it’s not fooling a soul.”  ― Neil GaimanAmerican Gods

I have found this to be true as I have visited stores this summer as part of Binc’s 100 Bookstore Challenge. I also noted that bookstores, like towns have very different personalities. Some are very organized and pristine, with a place for everything and everything in its place, while others are relaxed, very homey and even a bit rumpled. Some have their checkout desk front and center to greet you as you arrive, and others want you to peruse the store before happening upon the desk in the back. One store instructs their employees to help everyone coming in the door immediately, while in the next you are free to wander at you leisure without any interruption. I visited stores that offered seating on nicer furniture than I have in my own living room, and others where patrons are sprawled on the floor.

A bookstore can be as quiet as a library, or an active and energetic meeting place. You can get a cup of coffee or a latte in most bookstores now, but others offer a glass of wine, a mug of beer or even ice cream.  In almost every bookstore I visited there were people who had carved out a spot for themselves to relax, look through the books and take a few minutes (or longer) to let the worries of the world pass them by as they lost themselves in finding a good book.

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I know that for me, my quick trip to “just look around and drop off a Binc brochure” more often than not led to a much longer than anticipated stay. And usually the one book I stop in for often leads to several more that I had not known I needed until I saw them on the shelf, or read about them as a staff pick.

You can tell a lot about a bookstore, and also about the town, by the books they feature on the tables and displays. Are they about the history of the area, cutting edge design, cookbooks and food or the classics? It is fun to see what a store highlights to visitors.

What do your favorite bookstores say about their communities?

Post by Kit Steinaway – Office Manager, Binc Foundation

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