Elizabeth: What’s Your Shelf?

Terry Pratchett’s shelf seems to be quite full.

Earlier this year I attended a business conference in a lovely resort hotel in sunny Phoenix.  The days were packed with workshops and networking sessions, which I was eager to escape from at the end of the day for a little down time.

While other attendees were engaging in even more networking over dinner or dancing the night away in the silent disco, I was lacing up my sneakers and setting off to explore the surrounding area.

There wasn’t much around the resort itself – rocks, cactus, golf course, cactus, parking lot, cactus, rocks and more rocks and cactus – but a little less than a mile away there was a sprawling shopping center with dozens of stores, restaurants, and random works of art. More importantly, there was both a Starbucks and a Barnes & Noble bookstore.

After caffeinating and enjoying the “12 WEEKS. 12 ARTISTS. 12 MURALS“ art installation, I made my way to the bookstore, lured by the promise of wonderful bargain books just waiting for me in the clearance section. Continue reading

Elizabeth: The Call of the Bookstore

In a quirk of fate, my first “real” job when I was a teenager was in the Books, Tapes, & Stationery department at a local department store.  It was long enough ago that “tapes” referred to cassette tapes, and “books” were those rectangular things formed out of dead trees.

Along with the job came a store credit card and, as you can probably imagine, most of the purchases on that card were books.  Then, as now, I loved the clearance book table.  There were books with beautiful pictures of London, Paris, and lots of other places I dreamed of visiting.  There were always books from National Geographic Press, and I still have many of the art books I purchased then, like the Treasures of Tutankhamen’s Tomb and the Art of Dresden.  When things were slow, my co-workers and I gravitated toward the Hidden Eye picture books – squinting and peering awkwardly, trying to see the images hidden on the pages.    For research purposes, of course!

I bought fiction books too, of course, but their pull wasn’t nearly as strong as those bargains from the clearance section.  That section is still what draws me to brick & mortar bookstores.  I can always find something I need if I browse there long enough.    The same books probably exist on Amazon, but browsing “electronic shelves” isn’t nearly as satisfying as meandering down rows of physical books.  I’ve tried to limit my meandering recently – an intention helped by the fact that physical bookstores nearby are few and far between.

When I’m looking for a fiction title by a specific author, however, browsing at my local bookstore rarely pays off as there seems to be a disconnect between what they stock and what I’m trying to find.  It’s a problem remedied easily enough by logging onto Amazon.com, doing a quick search, and clicking “buy”.    Productive and efficient, but I kind of miss the physical interaction with books that way.

Lucky for me, when I ventured out of the house a few weeks ago, I found that there is an actual brick & mortar Amazon store about 10 miles away.

Naturally I had to go in and check it out.  It was . . . well . . . different. Continue reading