Hello again from Sarah Graves, recently returned from a whirlwind trip south of Machias, which if you know me you know doesn’t happen often. Between writing the books and doing the old house repairs whose details fill the books, I tend to be…well, firmly rooted is a nice phrase for it.
There’ve been strange days indeed around This Old Money-Pit lately, though, so last week my husband and I decided just to get out of Dodge for a little while. We went to Asheville, North Carolina, where among other places I visited — yes! — bookstores.
We stayed here >>>>
At Downtown Books they had used books and new books, rare books and chapbooks, comics and comix, international newspapers and special interest periodicals. It was all so lovely and well stocked and well loved, with just racks and racks of things to revel in the existence of.
Then at Malaprops bookstore just a few blocks away, there were notebooks and cards, a cafe, and all the new books in the world, it seemed like. And not just the top sellers, but many I hadn’t heard of — not that I’m any big expert, but a lot of other people aren’t, either. Here, people like me could find new writers, discoveries that don’t show up when you click ‘mysteries and thrillers’ and Amazon lists yet again the same top 100 sellers you saw last time and the time before. Like these:
In fact, in this bookstore someone had chosen these books specifically in order to give me that experience, the discovery of something new.
So in addition to scouring out the inside of my head with a blast of a new place, Asheville reminded me of something I’d known but had kind of forgotten: that wonderful bookstores don’t just have aesthetic value. They’re immensely pleasant, true, but they also help grow our business by exposing fresh works to book-buyers, works that because they’re not by well-known authors (yet!) won’t get shown to the casual browser on Amazon or one of the other e-stores.
Bookstores, because their product isn’t only chosen and displayed on the basis of popularity but also on merit — or sometimes simply on the principle of ‘look, isn’t this interesting?’ — keep reading and book-buying exciting for people in a way I haven’t seen happening electronically. And as far as I can tell, it won’t — or at least not until the “sort by most popular” list is joined by another choice: “sort by most piquant.”
Or perhaps “most delicious.”