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Posts Tagged ‘Booksmith’

I love books. (In case you didn’t already know.) I love reading them, talking about them, lending them to friends, receiving them as gifts or loans from friends, checking them out of the library, smelling them, flipping through them, writing about them.

I go through them pretty fast, so it’s nowhere near practical for me to buy all the books I read – hence my ardent adoration of libraries, and of borrowing books from friends. But I love to buy them when I can. And like a good reader/writer/bookworm, who doesn’t want to see the publishing industry go under or switch solely over to e-books or be totally monopolized by Amazon, I try to do most of my buying at local indies. (Most notably, my beloved Brattle – for used books – and the Booksmith, with occasional forays to Concord. And, okay, I sometimes still order occasionally from Amazon.)

I was sad to hear Borders had filed for bankruptcy and is closing more than 200 stores – though a tiny part of me cheered for the indies who will (I hope) see more business from this development. Mostly I worried for the future of the book industry in general – as lots of publishing professionals have said, fewer bookstores means fewer places to sell books, for everyone. And I’m sad for the communities in which Borders is the local bookstore, similar to the way in which Barnes & Noble is the (only) bookstore in my hometown.

However, I’ve been heading down on a semi-regular basis to the Borders near Copley Square, to scope out the deals at its closing sale. On my most recent visit, I scored three trade paperbacks for $23. This was after picking through shelves of disorganized books, shoved into crooked lines under scribbled-over signs with discounts larger than the section names. And though I was glad to score a deal, I felt a little like a vulture, picking over the remains of a carcass.

There’s something here about the devaluing of books in general, and supporting the big chains because discounts are attractive (which is the exact reason The Shop Around the Corner closed in You’ve Got Mail), and also something about not having the budget to buy nor the room to store all the books I’d like to own. I can’t quite articulate all the layers, nor am I seeking to condemn anyone for where they buy their books. (And I know some folks love their Kindles and nooks and iPads, though I am such a paper book fanatic that I don’t want one.)

But seeing the unruly shelves and the crossed-out discounts (replaced by higher discounts) and the empty space on the second floor, cordoned off like a crime scene with yellow Caution tape, really got to me. It felt like taking part in the dismantling of the store, though I know Borders’ problems go well beyond my ken. Nevertheless, I won’t be going back there. I’ll be more committed to doing my book shopping at the Booksmith and Brattle and other indies I love – because while I was sad to see this Borders close, I think I’d cry if any of my favorites had to close up shop.

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I’m starting to sound like a broken record, I know. But oh, how I love the bookishness of Boston. Here, a few of my favorite bookish haunts so far:

1. Brattle Book Shop. I’ve gushed about this place before, but I’ll say it again: Outdoor stalls crammed with treasures ALL $5 and under. A rare-book room that feels as sacred as a church. Stacks of fiction, a wee children’s alcove, a shelf of review copies at the front, and a giant pencil over the front door. It is heaven. (And perfectly located near a coffee house, a yarn shop and my beloved Boston Common.)

2. Brookline Booksmith. This place is just dazzling – shelves upon shelves of books in every genre, a gorgeous gift section, and a Used Book Cellar. I wrote about it a few weeks ago, and I love a good browse when I’m in the area.

3. The Boston Public Library. Elegant, imposing, full of art and books and even a fountain in the central courtyard. I wandered around alone a few weeks ago, took Jeremiah back, and plan to return.

4. Quincy’s Thomas Crane Library. Our local library (with four branches!) has a fabulous selection of books, audiobooks and DVDs. Needless to say, I am here ALL the time.

5. Wellesley Booksmith. This is a bit farther out – but I got to meet Erin here a couple of weeks ago, and it’s a charming, cozy spot with a wide selection and fun, funky gifts.

I’m sure this list will grow as I continue to explore Boston…which is, really, a delightful prospect. I’ll be sure to share any future bookish treasures with you.

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I’d heard of Brookline Booksmith before we ever arrived in Boston, thanks to the wonderful Shelf Awareness, a daily e-newsletter for the book trade that often spotlights indie bookstores. Booksmith has two locations, one in Brookline and one in Wellesley, and they host and spearhead various events, so they were on my radar. However, I literally stumbled across it a couple of Sundays ago, as we walked through Brookline to get lunch after church. I peeked inside and vowed I’d be back.

And oh MY:

Its shelves seem to go back forever – and then there’s the used book cellar, a treasure trove of all sorts of literary goodness. Pardon my gushing, but after eight years in Abilene (which REALLY NEEDS a good indie bookstore), I’m a little giddy with all the great bookstores around here. They’ve got a lovely gift section that includes stationery, jewelry, socks (of all things) and journals galore:

There’s also an an adorable children’s area in the back, and full-to-bursting young adult shelves:

Their fiction section is huge; they have a writing shelf and a large travel section and tables of bargain books, and author events on a regular basis. I’m in love.

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