Steve Ellis is a long-time and cherished customer. Over the years, it's fair to say he's become a true friend of the shop in all definitions. As we prepared for our Go Fund Me drive, he asked if he could write something about small bookshops and us and we gladly answered yes.
The Charms of A Small Bookstore, Vol I
n. the strange wistfulness of used bookstores, which are somehow infused with the passage of time—filled with thousands of old books you’ll never have time to read, each of which is itself locked in its own era, bound and dated and papered over like an old room the author abandoned years ago, a hidden annex littered with thoughts left just as they were on the day they were captured.
The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows
I am a bibliophile and I find small bookstores frequently challenging. While I prefer stores of modest size to the large chains, most small bookstores have inadequate inventory and many deal primarily in used paperbacks of every conceivable genre and in every imaginable condition. I find the hunt through such a store frequently exhausting, often despairing, and usually disappointing – to say nothing of the dirt. For someone who loves the look and feel of a hardbound book as I do, these sorts of used bookstores, when first located, always promise more on the outside than they are able to deliver within. What older hardbound books they possess are usually priced based on age, but almost never upon age and condition. In such a store, a first edition with a broken binding and missing pages is frequently seen by the proprietor as equal in value to a first edition of the same book in fine condition complete with a dust jacket.
I love nothing better than finding a new bookstore that satisfies my tastes. And while the search for a previously unknown used bookstore can always be used to justify a day traipsing about the Northwest, I admit that the chance of a successful purchase is minuscule. In reality, such a search usually is, for me, little more than an excuse for enjoying the scenery and sampling new cuisine. By contrast, I always cherish my return to a tried and true small bookstore I’ve come to know and regularly patronize, simply because I understand how unique and scarce such venues are.
- Continued in Vol II