A bookstore adventure

Jam of the week: “Accordion”?by Madvillain

I went to Iowa City this past weekend. I had a chance to hang out with some friends, eat a nice home-cooked dinner and wander around downtown. Probably one of the most enjoyable parts of my visit came during the latter activity when I got the chance to visit the bookstores in town.

Like a lot of people familiar with the internet, and people who don’t live in a town with a dedicated bookstore, I do a lot of my shopping for books online. I can often find books there that I can’t find in a physical bookstore and those items are often cheaper to order online, even with shipping costs. However, I jump at the chance to shop at a bookstore.

When I was younger, I would often bum around book stores with my friends when we were looking for something to do. We were a physical manifestation of the reason that a lot of large bookstores are hurting financially. We would skim through books, maybe read a magazine, and at most buy a cup of coffee from an attached coffeeshop.

Now, holding a full-time job, I have less time to invest in browsing those bookstores, but more money to actually buy books. Since that change, I’m buying a lot more from non-chain bookstores. That’s influenced by a desire to shop locally that’s been ground into my head, but also because I simply can’t find those large bookstores as often. I would be much more upset to see those places leave.

One of the biggest draws for me to those stores is the selection. When I’m shopping for something online, I’m looking for something specific. I might have heard about a book from a friend or on the news, and I’ll specifically search for that item. I know that many of those websites offer categories to browse through, but I feel more adventurous and look at many books and topics when I’m at a bookstore. Between the two bookstores and one comic book shop that I visited, I came back with a couple items from each store.

Perhaps if I lived close to one of these bookstores I would find the time to actually sit down and preview more books. I’m guilty of buying more books than I have the time to read sometimes, but it’s nice to have a good selection around for a rainy day. One of my college roommates would always say that if they didn’t have their refrigerator stocked with groceries, he could never decide on something to eat with a small selection. I suppose I’m similar when it comes to reading.

If you’re curious, I’ve already started reading a collection of Sylvia Plath poetry that I bought in Iowa City. It’s a somber way to start my goal of reading more poetry, but I can see why a couple friends have recommended her to me. Hopefully, there are people out there who also shop at bookstores when they can so their future won’t be as depressing.