Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Confessions of a Book Whore: There is something about a bookstore...

 
 

What kind of a book lover would I be if I sat here and declared I hated bookshops, I have worked long hours in them, headed straight for them, browsed around them, met dates in them, sat on their floors, and spent vast amounts of money in them. They are the be-all-and-end-all of my universe, in every shape, form and online affiliation.  

There was a time when I loathed stepping foot in one, it reminded me too much of the days working in one, finding more solace in ordering online for convenience – but in the end nothing bested the stroke of fingertips on raised font on spines. After my slight flirtation with online ordering, I stepped into a bookshop, the warm smiles enveloped me but the lack of range, and outburst and flamboyancy of commercialism slapped me in the face.  
Love Books

Bookshops were forced to tighten the proverbial belt on stock as the digital age swept among us, a cold lurking mist that tainted shelves, booksellers grew grumpy, mass-market fiction dominated the bestseller lists and the plush and pomp of bookstores faded behind the smells of coffee and discounted tables, to lure more customers in.

Without stamping my feet and causing a raucous, I stood back and admired. For it wasn’t the huge chain stores like CNA and Exclusive Books that seemed to dominate, the under dogs (your independent stores) began to shine all that more brighter in the chaos of the looming death of book. These stores began to shine all that more brighter for me, while I do love the service Exclusive Books brings, and the range, it’s those lazy Saturday mornings/evenings that I would find myself with a cup of coffee in my hand roaming bookstores like Skoobs, Love Books, Novel Books and Nice Books on 4th; granted these are bookstores based in Johannesburg, and shining gems like The Book Lounge and Kalk Bay Books whom have me roaming shelves every time I visit Cape Town. How can one forget Bargain Books, and Graffiti Lynnwood Mall in Pretoria?

Business Day Live journalist, Eugene Goddard, wrote in the article The future lies in books backwards back in 2011:

Called Skoobs, its name (a reversal of the word "books") is the only backwards thing about it. This multidimensional auditorium of well-stocked bookshelves is more like an event, a phantasmagoric porthole into the world of the written word.


This is a mere spotlight in an article that seems to proudly boast that the quirk seems to work in these dark times. So I asked Skoobs myself, what makes them different?


Marcia Love, Book Manager at Skoobs says:
What sets us apart is that we (staff) are all in it for the books rather than for the JOB. WE have a fantastic and enthusiastic team. Another thing that separates us from some others is that we have comfortable chairs scattered around and encourage people to find a quiet spot to read (rather than the usual "we're a bookstore not a library" vibe). I don't have a problem seeing the same people day after day, reading an entire book from front to back, because they'll remember us as a happy place, and when they need to buy a gift for someone, we will be first and foremost in their mind. And then there's the champagne with the baby grand, which makes it a great meeting spot over the weekend - listen to a pianist, sip bubbly, and chill surrounded by books and people who love them.  
        
 

When it comes to a bookstore, a physical-pestle-and-mortar bookstore, I find myself relating to it like I would a potential partner. A good bookstore should allow me to be myself (slippers, curlers and all), that will inspire me, challenge me, respect me, and make me feel loved.
 
Kalk Bay Books
I want nothing more than to roam silently among the shelves, and when I grow tired, or cannot figure out what to read, I need a bookseller to nudge me in a direction, as a parent would. I cringe when I am greeted with a dull-paled face bookseller who cannot tell me where they keep Roald Dahl, or when asked what is selling well the reply is merely “Oh, I don’t know” ended with an awkward silence.

It does sound like I expect the world from a bookstore, from its stock holding, to its knowledgeable and approachable staff.

Besides the glowing covers, helpful staff and the books (no doubt) what is it about a bookstore that envelopes us readers, book lovers and information seekers so? There is just something about a bookstore, the feel of raised spot UV on the spines.  
 


I’d love to know what you love about your favourite bookstore. Tell us where it is?
 

1 comments:

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