We’re all busy. I know. Sometimes I feel like I’m juggling sixteen balls in the air and dropping way too many of them. So I fully understand the appeal of online shopping. It’s great for sweaters, tote bags, that obscure lecture series your father wants for his birthday.
But not so much for shoes, or dresses, or (eek!) bathing suits. Sometimes you really need to put your foot in the shoe. Feel the fabric in your fingers. Try something on.
I’m that way with books. Which is the primary reason I absolutely love to go to a real sticks-and-bricks bookstore when I want something to read. I’m talking about a place with that book smell, where you can pluck a paperback off the shelves and skim a few pages. Or wander past a table and browse some titles you’ve never heard of, much less decided to read yet. There’s a certain spontaneity that gets lost in the online buying experience. Sure, it’s convenient–when you know precisely what you want. But what if you don’t?
Okay, granted I’m a bit of a geek about books. (My nickname in grade school was “book nook” after the corner of the classroom where I spent much of my time). But truly, there is something special about an actual bookstore as opposed to the virtual kind.
I want to share five truly awesome destination bookstores, some in cities where I’ve lived, others where I’ve just been a tourist. Check them out if you get a chance!
BookPeople (Austin, Texas) — Comfy arm chairs, great coffee, and (my personal favorite) those little hand-written shelf-talkers featuring staff recommendations. I have trusted them repeatedly and never been disappointed. These staffers know their books!
Powell’s Books (Portland, Oregon) — One word: ginormous. I’m talking about 68,000 square feet of books. Think about that! How big is your home?? I first stumbled into this place at the age of 17 and I’m still blown away by it. If you’re in Portland, you can’t miss it.
Borders (Michigan Avenue, Chicago) — If you’ve ever braved the Windy City in January, you know about nose-numbing cold and you can imagine how heavenly it feels to step through the doors and be surrounded by books and warmth and the smell of coffee. My favorite stop on the Magnificent Mile.
Eagle Harbor Book Co. (Bainbridge Island, Washington) — It probably has something to do with the ferry ride and the amazing view of the Seattle skyline, but this is truly a destination bookstore. Good selection, inviting atmosphere, and just a skip away from the ferry terminal.
Murder By The Book (Houston, Texas) — If you’re a mystery lover, this is your store. They get a great lineup of suspense authors doing events, too.
Where do you like to find your next book? Leave a comment and be eligible to win a $15 Starbucks gift card and a signed copy of WHISPER OF WARNING, which recently won the 2010 RITA for romantic suspense (yay!!).