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Walking Through Bookstores

By JohnU | July 24, 2013

I love walking through bookstores. Have you been to The Strand in New York City? It’s one of my favorites, and I’ve only been there once. I walked in and was drawn immediately to tables filled with wildly divergent titles stacked seemingly at random.

But the truth is, those titles were not randomly thrown together. They were curated.

Yes, I believe an excellent bookstore display, the kind that entices you to pick up books you would not have otherwise seen, function specifically because of that designed haphazardness.

There are distinct advantages to having sections in bookstores. When you’re looking for science fiction, you don’t necessarily want to be browsing titles on architectural theory, World War II history, fashion design, and biographies. You want your space opera and you know where to find it.

But sometimes, you just want a good read. You want to be exposed to new and interesting ideas. And you’re not going to find something completely new by browsing the same aisle you browsed in another bookstore in another city. You’ll find the same authors and the same titles and the same themes.

Like I said, sometimes that’s what you need.

But I think we need a lot more randomness. I think we need to walk into a bookstore and look at books on architectural theory, World War II history, fashion design and biographies – in addition to that science fiction title on which you had your heart set.

That was a huge part of what impressed me about The Strand. Yes, I only purchased titles of interest to me, but I picked up a lot of things I had never seen. When I go to Barnes & Noble, I check the display tables in the center of the store, scanning all the titles and all the covers, looking for something that grabs my eye that might not have come up in a regular online search.

The truth is this: I buy most of my books online because I often know what I’m looking for. But it’s refreshing to wander without intent through stacks of disconnected books chosen, not at random, but by people who, if only for a moment, believed this was a book that needed to be shared.

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Topics: Random |

One Response to “Walking Through Bookstores”

  1. thomas.mcknight Says:
    July 25th, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    I hope we do not totally lose our bookstores. Remember when there were three on Magnolia and Apalachee Parkway: B&N, Borders, and BAM? Now there are none there. There are now only two large bookstores in Tallahassee that I know of.

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