S. Worthen (owlfish) wrote,
S. Worthen

On buying books

On the top floor of Foyle's book store yesterday, I turned down the chance to browse the shelves in any section of my choice. I left without buying anything. The one temptation I passed, marked-down thing-a-day calendars for 2006, were all ones I'd worked through in previous years.

More and more, I find that book stores are places I avoid going to idly. I go to find presents and I go to meet friends and I go when I need fiction and have no particular book in mind. There is nothing like a book store (or open-stack library) for browsing. I am most willing to indulge in unexpected fiction, found by chance or sudden recall of a once-enjoyed author. Even cookbooks or food history books can be an occasional whim; I am new enough to the genre that I know of far more books of interest than I possess. I eke out my purchases, a very few at a time.

Last week, when I placed an Amazon order for two academic books, I included a food book as an extra treat in my order, a classic to supplement the geographic range of my existing collection. Claudia Roden's A New Book of Middle Eastern Food fills a continent-sized hole; but it wasn't why I placed the order. I wanted - needed perhaps - the two academic books, and not just any book could fill that particular niche. I needed very particular books. Sometimes I need them in very particular editions. And given the convenience of online ordering, for the books that matter most, I almost always mail-order these days.

My tendencies war with my deeply-engrained conscience, the importance of keeping independant bookstores alive and well, something which won't happen without my footfall - among others. Small independant bookstores are especially vulnerable to the convenience behemoth. They especially need me and my book-buying compulsions. But I still need them too, especially on days when I have forgotten what fiction I enjoy, or wonder what else is out there I might like to read, and only browsing the shelves, at leisure, will suffice.
  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.