A friend of mine and I were discussing my blog post from last Friday – Four THINGS I LOVE AND THINGS I HATE ABOUT BARNES & NOBLE – and we bantered around some thoughts about what makes a bookstore, a good bookstore, and what necessities must an ideal bookstore have. So I present to you my dream bookstore and the necessities to make it such.
Four NECESSITIES FOR AN IDEAL BOOKSTORE on Friday
It seems silly but a good bookstore needs to have books, lots of them! I want a variety of books both in depth and breadth. There is no way to have every book, but there should be enough variety that readers can find both the latest new release and books that sometimes fly under the radar. I love to discover the newest book by a favorite author, but I also get excited to discover a new, hidden gem. It might be a new or new-to-me mystery series or something outside my usual reading parameters. There is something magical about finding a hidden treasure of a new book while perusing the store shelves.
One definite requirement though would be if a new release is sold and it is part of a series, the first book in the series must be available. I know that there are other anal retentive readers like myself who must read books in order.
Places to read, relax, and revel in books
This is one thing that independent bookstores do so much better than the big chain stores. They are full of nooks and corners to curl up and read in. My dream bookstore would be full of couches and chairs, window seats and benches, stools and ladders. Readers want places to sit and enjoy books. As my friend noted, books are expensive. Readers need places to read first chapters to see if they want to purchase the book, and places to spread out potential purchases so the reader can weigh options and negotiate what to take home and what to return to the shelves.
The quirky bookstores that are cramped and crowded are perfect for discovering a hidden gem or secret treasure, but those aren’t my every day bookstores. I want a store with space to read, to think, and to dream.
A café . . . or bar
To me books and a cup of tea with a sweet treat go hand in hand. I love to curl up on the couch at home with a cup of tea and a good book. There is something soothing and relaxing about the combination and I think it reminds us to slow down and enjoy the moment. You can’t slam down a cup of a hot beverage, just as you can’t race through a book. Both need to be savored and enjoyed.
I recently read an article about a bookstore-bar combination. I would also enjoy that but since alcohol tends to put me to sleep, I might not make it through my books as quickly. My husband however thought this was a great idea!
A community feel
I think bookstores should be a place where people can gather and learn new things. I love to attend author signings; it is wonderful to meet an admired author but I find their discussions and reading interpretations add so much more to my appreciation of the book. Bookstores should provide book clubs and discussion groups, children’s enrichment programs, and story times for all ages. Bookstores can do even more. Game nights, writers’ workshops, and even study groups can all find a home in a bookstore; it is a place that can be a gathering spot for those who love the written word and have a passion for what it says.
I think there is a very real dearth in our society for people of all ages to come together and learn, have intelligent and lively discussions, and share a love and appreciation for literature.
So let’s get rid of the toys, the fluorescent lighting, the hard wooden chairs, and the extraneous space fillers. Bring back the bookstores.