The thing about being a writer, for me at least, is that it's my way of getting to have all the lives I want. What I mean is that I “try on” careers and lifestyles. I've always been the sort of person who imagines myself as a lawyer, or a politician, or a stockbroker, chef, etc. I think of that life and play it out, wondering where I'd be if I had chosen that particular path. Since I never really settled on a path, and seem incapable of it in fact, writing is the outlet for those imaginary lives. I can be a chef or a lawyer, a commando or a cop, and I can experience success or defeat without ever leaving the comfort of my home. It's pretty sweet, even if it sounds a bit insane. 🙂
One of the imaginary lives I've thought about is owning a little bookstore. You know, a slightly musty place with old leather volumes that soar twenty feet up on all sides. A place with a ladder and a loft and lots of sunshine. Cozy and intellectually stimulating. A place where I sit and read Herodotus and Pliney, where I have academic conversations with my clientele, where we discuss the nature of the universe and the future of humankind. (::snort:: Are you gagging yet?)
Okay, really, keep the bookstore with the musty leather volumes, but add some romance and adventure, some mystery, and it still sounds like fun. A life I could enjoy.
Ahem. Then Bookseller Chick points me to this conversation between Barry Eisler and an independent bookstore owner. Oh dear God. There goes the fantasy. Owning a bookstore isn't a literary walk in the park. It's not all fun and books all day long. It's worrying about survival, getting creamed by the big chains, and playing by rules that the big guys grind beneath massive boxes of endless books. And, speaking of endless books, BC has a post about shelf confusion that's worth a look.
Hmm, maybe an antique store would be more fun……..
(Now, from the writer's perspective, Eisler's exchange is worth a close look. While I understand the bookseller's concerns, the slightly hostile tone doesn't do him credit. If it's meant as humor, it falls flat. Who's right in this exchange? Is there a right and wrong, or do they both have valid points? Things to think about and be aware of if you're serious about a writing career.)
I had a chance to buy a bookstore in Vernal, Utah. Yes, I refused. Why? I love books and would love to own a bookstore, but you hit all the points why it is impossible now days to survive in the book business.
And, then buying a bookstore in a small town… how unbelievable is that??? There is very little profit for the seller (public) and you have to eat the books that don’t sell. Not fun.
It’s a fun fantasy, though. 🙂 One of my favorite bookstores used to be in Waldorf, MD. Ellie’s Paperback Shack. But it was a used bookstore, no new stock, which doesn’t help writers. Still, I loved getting lost in Ellie’s, digging through her shelves, finding obscure tomes. When I drove through MD a couple of years ago, the store was still there. I didn’t have time to stop, though. 🙁
I dream of a book store, too. Coffeeshop setup by day, jazz club at night. I’d never want to leave.
My kind of place Terry. We have a place kinda like that call the “Comma Coffee.” Most of the books in there are brought in by the patrons and left there. You can drink coffee and read the used books.
Also, they do jazz at night …
Ohhhh, jazz, coffee, and books! Sounds wonderful!