Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Destination: Bookstore

Today my guest at Terry's Place is BD Tharp. She's a self-proclaimed book-a-holic who knows what makes a bookstore a “destination”. She admits her favorite place to write or read is in the local bookstore, with a large latte close at hand.

And it's also my day at The Blood-Red Pencil, where I'm talking about some confusing words.

Everywhere I go I have to visit the local bookstore(s). Recently we were in Taos, so I stopped by the “Moby Dickens” bookshop in the Taos Plaza. It’s a great little shop with floor to ceiling shelves filled with bright colored books. Most of the shelves are painted white, so the spines really pop, and the books that are faced forward catch your attention. There are nooks and crannies to explore or settle into for a quick perusal of the book jacket blurb or first page or two.

Like most bookstores they also have other items, decorative pens, stationary, artistic cards, stuffed animals, eclectic bookmarks, maps and other interesting paraphernalia. Have you ever noticed the smells--of paper, leather and the inevitable dust that collects no matter how many times you wipe the surfaces clean? It’s a comfortable aroma that permeates all bookstores.

With the explosion of electronic books we’ve lost some nice stores (e.g. Borders Books). And not just the large chains or discounters, either, we’ve lost a lot of small independent bookstores, too. Personally, I love a bargain. Give me a coupon and I’m ready to use it. But there are special stores that become a “destination”, a place for readers and writers to go and hang out.

Give me a latte, a good book (or computer), a comfortable chair and I’ll be content for hours. But only after I’ve scanned all the shelves to find stories I have to experience, or gifts that are quirky and perfect for someone close. I love to write in bookstores. The atmosphere is perfect for the creative muse. We’re in the presence of the classics, new breakout authors and others of our kind. Those of us dreamers who imagine we will someday be part of the ambience and culture of great bookstores everywhere.

One of my favorite bookstores in Wichita, “Watermark Books & Café” is constantly growing with the times. They’ve expanded to include e-Books and always support the local authors and writer’s groups. Nearly every week they host authors, with varying degrees of notoriety, who discuss their stories with readers and sign books. The owner of store does book reviews on National Public Radio, the staff does reviews on their website, and there is a special room where the walls are covered with author autographs. The café serves wonderful soups, sandwiches, and the sweets to die for. And like many a great bookstore, they have programs for children and book clubs for adults.

On of the best qualities of a “destination bookstore” are the clerks. They say hello and go out of their way to help, or leave you on your own, if you prefer. You are welcome to just come and spend some time. And, if you come in often enough they will learn your name, what you like to read, and make recommendations they intuitively know you’ll enjoy. They know their stock as well as their clientele.

Does your local bookstore also have live music on the weekends? Do they host writer’s workshops? Do they participate in literacy drives? To me the “destination bookstore” does many of these things and some do all of them. Take advantage of what your local bookstore(s) have to offer, to you and to your families. You just never know who you might meet or what novel idea will start to germinate.

A lifetime resident of the Midwest, B.D. Tharp’s award winning women’s fiction novel, Feisty Family Values, is available in bookstores, Barnesandnoble.com, Amazon.com, in hardback and e-Book (Kindle & Nook). Check out her blog, book reviews, and excerpt at http://bdtharp.com.

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Maryann Miller said...

I agree about the appeal of a bookstore. I think most writers appreciate them on a level deeper than other folks. The Borders in Omaha NE, which just closed, was a destination place for me when I lived there. We had an active writers group that met there regularly and the store staff was very supportive of us. We also had signing events when one of us had a book published.

BDTharp said...

Maryann - the loss of Border's has affected many writers everywhere. Let's hope something wonderful will take its place.

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

I understand exactly what you mean about being a book-a-holic - you hear of folks on drinking binges and eating binges and gambling binges - I go on reading binges LOL

Good luck & God's blessing to you all.

BDTharp said...

Pamela - you are a woman after my own heart. I didn't mention my occasional chocolate binge...'nuf said. ;-)

Jacqueline Seewald said...

My favorite places are bookstores and libraries, both wonderful.