I shop at Amazon and Barnes and Noble, but I would like to be a cool person who shops at independent bookstores. For years we’ve been told indies are better. Writers prefer indies to corporations. All right! Go, writers! Obama shops at Politics and Prose. Hurrah, I voted for him twice!
But take a walk on the wild side in the Midwest. You won’t find what you’re looking for at indies (if they exist at all) in:
a) Cedar Rapids, Iowa (where you can smell the Quaker Oats factory when the wind is right )
b) Cedar Falls (a university town)
c) Des Moines (the capital of Iowa, sometimes called “Dead” Moines)
e) Mankato, Minnesota (Maud Hart Lovelace’s hometown, known as Deep Valley in the Betsy-Tacy books)
I took a walk today. My brain told me I would be able to buy Tessa Hadley’s The Past at the local indie. Everybody is reading Hadley, right? She was interviewed in the “By the Book” feature in The New York Times.
So I took a brisk walk and then burst into the bookstore, in the space that used to be Hair Ph.D.
AND THEY DID NOT HAVE IT. Nor did they have Elizabeth Strout’s new book, My Name Is Lucy Barton. So I said I was browsing. I finally bought a paperback. I’ll read it eventually, I suppose. But the sad truth is that I should have gone to Amazon or B&N.
God, I miss bookstores!
I could make a list of dozens of great bookstores that went under in the ’90s. (And I miss Borders.)
Sorry, I have to wait till I go to Omaha or Iowa City, London or New York, Washington or San Franciso, to support independent bookstores. I tried!