“A place is not really a place without a bookstore.” – Gabrielle Zevin
When you are in a used bookstore, you feel surrounded by old friends. Ones with stories to tell, places to take you, adventures to live and romance to find.
You can never say enough about the warmth and sense of discovery a used book store evokes. Maybe it’s the scent of well-turned pages, the dreams imagined by titles or the found treasure of a just right spoken word. They are special places.
Whether you are escaping a gray day or too much work, they are places to lose the world outside. Some of the best used book stores are decorated with art, interesting objects or special quotes here and there. One in Charlotte even has a full-size airplane hung from the ceiling.
Booksellers can be traced back to ancient times when scribes were paid to copy manuscripts for nobles wanting their own collection. Napoleon thought so much of the importance of booksellers that he made them secure a license to operate and submit to a code of ethics. Books stores first appeared in the US in Boston, quickly spreading throughout the country.
The 1990’s almost saw the demise of the locally owned bookstore with the rise of major chains. The internet spawned a surge in collecting books. A whole new jargon became into vogue. Books were rated Fine to Fair and earmarked with codes only collectors fully understood. Terms like bumped, blind stamped, signed, edges gilt and library copy abounded.
All this interest in books fostered a rebirth of local book stores, especially used ones. Today there are over 2,250 of them. Ardent enjoyers have even formed Book Store Tour groups to take day and longer trips to the best ones.
You never know what you might find in a used book store, even love. A friend of mine told me about meeting his life long love in a bookstore. How they first found each other in the poetry aisle, trying to purchase the same book. They agreed to have a cup of coffee to decide who should get the book. Alas though, when they went back to the poetry section, the book was gone. This spurred a search of other bookstores together and a friendship that grew into love. He told me they made the commitment to live together only after agreeing to combine their personal libraries.
They remain together today bound by their books and love.
Additional Reading – “Bookstore Tourism” by Larry Portzline and “Bookshops” by Jorge Carrion