Sunday, February 27, 2011

Why Visit the Bookstore?

I know many readers of my blog visit book stores and very often buy books. I've lamented having no local independent store to shop in before on my blog.  There are a few used bookstores, one with lots of character though I don't care for the location.  They even serve terrific, very expensive coffee and pastries like any Borders or Barnes and Noble.  I've bought some used books there including some very old ones from the 1800's.  I like how they look on my shelves.

The big news this week is the closing of lots of Borders stores.  The store closest to me is staying open but the other Borders in the area is closing.  I received an email advertising everything 20-40% off, except for selected items.  I've been to store closings before, though never for a bookstore, and I know those selected items are usually the things I want.  Still, I'm going to visit.  I heard from a friend that the cafe in the closing store packed up their Seattle's Best, mugs, beans and all the first day the news came out.  So I guess I'm not getting 40% off any flavored coffee beans or travel mugs.

I usually spend some time in the Borders' cafe each time I go book shopping.  Even if I don't buy a book, I'm likely to spend some money on a drink.  My daughter likes to spend hours in the cafe.  Why?  Sitting there recently, I jotted down some of the reasons I find sitting in the cafe so pleasant.

As I mentioned, I usually indulge in some fancy coffee drink and once in a great while, I'll purchase one of the treats behind the glass display case.  The stuffed pretzels are my favorite.  While I'm sipping my fine caffeinated drink, I can people watch.  There are a few people I see fairly often at Borders but there always some new characters to wonder about.

I always carry a few magazines and books to the cafe with me.  Reading the first chapter or even a few pages will either intrigue me or not.  I not only discover a hint of the story plot but also get a taste of the writer's voice and style.  Before I spend my money on a book, especially an author new to me, I can make a more informed decision.  I've used the time to look up something in a reference book or magazine.

Some of the people I watch use the cafe for different things.  I've seen students studying together, young people being tutored, and others meeting for reasons unknown.  Last week I saw a young couple meet their wedding planner.  At an earlier visit, I saw three friends planning a business venture.  They had a half dozen books on starting a small business piled on their long table.  Half the people in the cafe on any given day have their computers open, working or playing, but doing it with a cup of java on hand. 

In every bookstore, Barnes and Noble has the best, you find an interesting collection of journals, leather bound, lined and unlined, snap-together covers and even pens to match.  Every writer needs at least one.  Other cool things can be found, jigsaw puzzles, brainy games and calendars of every kind.  Borders also carries a selection of Burt's Bees products including my favorite lip balm. 

And of course there are books.  And book lovers.  Even though more of us are buying our books and reading them via eReaders, I still want those physical stores to stay open.  I want to visit, drink coffee and relax in the company of other bibliophiles. 

Besides buying books are there other reasons you visit your local bookstore?  Are you losing a Borders near you?  Do you see the future of brick and mortar stores as optimistic or limited?


  1. No Borders or Waldenbooks in my area - closed up years ago. Afraid since I'm not a coffee person, I don't hang out much in the shops. But when we did have a Waldenbooks, they had the best deals on writing journals.

  2. It doesn't look like my Borders is closing. I have often wanted to hang out in their coffee shop. Most of the people there are writing, reading, very few are talking. It's quieter than my library. It's on my list of places to go and write when I can't work at home. I will buy books there, too, but usually only on sale. I'm happy to see they aren't on the list but I haven't been there for awhile (it's 20 min. away) so there might be a note on the door or something.

    Thanks for making a comment on my blog so I could find you!

  3. Over the last couple of years our Borders has gone from so crowded with stock it was claustrophobic to so cutback that voices will soon echo. It's not set to close but more and more requests must be ordered.
    The cafe is still a great place to find new characters.

  4. I'm lucky to live in a small town with two independent bookstores--the two that stayed in business even as Borders and B & N put most of the indies out of business in nearby towns. The demise of the "Big and Nasties" gives me mixed feelings. Yes, they had great coffee shops and a fantastic array of literary delights, but I preferred the indies for the personal attention. I've read that the demise of the giants may actually cause a rebirth of the indie, where you can still get recommendations and chat with knowledgeable people. I hope they're right. Buying nothing but ebooks online will be awfully lonely.

  5. There was a Waldenbooks/Borders open at the mall before--but then they closed. They were open again for Christmas time but it seems like a seasonal thing; they're never open for long.

  6. We don't have any Borders in our area (not sure if there are any in Canada at all) - but we've lost our indie book stores over the years. We don't have one with a coffee shop at all - I'd love that!

  7. Bookstores, my world.
    I could work in a bookstore, I adore books. Walking down the rows gives me pleasure, although I rarely buy in a shop, because I love getting book deliveries and unwrapping them.

    I still choose books in stores, just to flip through them quickly.
    Nahno ∗ McLein

  8. It sounds like we all have stories of book stores closing and opening. I envy those of you with an indie you can shop at.

  9. You might like my blog post this writers group has to move bec. our Borders is closing and the closest one is almost an hour away for me. (That "other" chain wasn't hospitable to us so we aren't going back convenient as it is.) Speaking of indies--the Midtown Scholar in Harrisburg deserves our support. I'm with you all the way.

  10. I haven't simply hung out in a bookstore in ages. I'm usually in too much a rush. I will always pop in though even if they do carry all the books I've seen before ;)

  11. I also visit bookstores for signings - LOL! I've been getting the emails, so need to see which Borders in Raleigh is closing.

  12. We have two Waterstones in the nearest city and used to have a Borders in Bournemouth. The LSO and I would visit Bournemouth once a year (it's two hour car journey) just to go to Borders. You could lose yourself in there all day!

    Ellie Garratt

  13. I love bookstores and the experience for all the things you described. I hope the indies do rise again, and that they take some lessons from what worked for Borders and B&N. My favorite bookstore was Brentano's in NYC. Cozy, packed, multi-leveled, cushy places to sit, etc.