I still don’t feel totally at home in any of the bookstores here. That’s probably a good thing, because now I don’t buy books in quite the quantity I used to. (Not that it’s not still a problem.) But it also means that I’m missing one of my main third places – the other one being my bathtub, which isn’t all that great here, either (I have to cover the drain with duct tape in order to fill the tub). I still go to them happily, but they’re just places where I look, not places where I know where things are, where I get the culture of it, where I recognize the cashiers (except that at one of the nearby bookstores, half of the employees went or still go to my graduate program). I want a comfy place again, but I guess that just comes from spending 22 years going to the same store, so maybe it’s not all the Greater Boston bookstores’ fault.
Still, though, when I don’t think about the fact that I have next to no business training, no money, and lots of fear, I want my own bookstore.
I want it to have two major components. First, the eatery part is going to be modeled after Globe, the place where I spent a little too much time and way too many crowns when I was studying and writing in Prague. That means a) really good food, and not just gluten, and b) alcohol. That’s not because I’m an alcoholic, but it is because writers like to drink, and so do readers, and I also think that it would be nice if there were somewhere to go with my friends when we wanted a non-caffeinated beverage sans college bros and hos. I’m just saying. No drunkies allowed in this bar, and I think the key to that is not actually advertising that you have alcohol. Like in Prague, for example, where people don’t flip out about drinking like it’s OMG A BIG DEAL I’M LIKE 21 GUYS, and alcohol is just a thing like any other.
There is a lot of talk about indie bookstores, and for good reason. They are cute and nice and wonderful, but it would seem that they don’t often get the love or economic support they need, unless they’re selling used books, in which case they get vintage points and quirkiness points and hard-to-find points. If I had a bookstore, it would sell new books, but with a catch.
There are plenty of places where you can buy the latest HarperCollins, Scholastic, or Simon & Schuster. I want my store to sell solely books from smaller publishers, because they’re indie, too. Not only would that be a nice niche to carve, but I think it would also make for a bookstore with a lot more diversity in its voices, styles, and formats. How cool would it be if you were wandering, found a bookstore, bought a book, and later realized that it was from the Feminist Press, Cinco Puntos, or Smart Pop? Or if you were tired of Barnes and Noble and were desperately looking for something that spoke to your experience as a trans black woman or a Muslim sci fi geek or whatever?
I also have this magical but very impractical idea that the shelving would change all the time, so that one day you might find a title under “dragons and fairies” but another day it would be shelved under “girls who kick ass” because its content fit with both of those, but obviously that would be next to impossible.
I want it to be a place where you would want to hang out and study or where you can goof around with your friends, because if you’re at my bookstore, you probably have smart, quirky friends who will drink and say intelligent things the way mine do. Basically, I want to hang out at my own bookstore.
I am accepting applications for business partner and also venture capital. And, since the point of independent businesses is to have pun-y names (right? like a cappella groups?), perhaps it will be called The Unbeaten Track?
Of course, anyone who calls him or herself a lover of books must have a dream bookstore, too. That’s why this is part of Road Trip Wednesday. Check out other people’s responses here.