We had the perfect weekend. The high point was walking our books over to University City, in the sun and the breeze and the warmth and the cool of a perfectly weathered day. We were shocked to find possibly the best bookstore in the city has been here for forty-one years, we have been here for four and it was only on Saturday that we met. It has been an intelligence gap of monumental proportions. Crowded and neat, cozy without being dusty and all the books impeccably chosen, the only thing missing was the bookstore cat.
When we met with Storey and Alex a couple of weeks back, we were tickled, but not surprised, to find that we have all been planning our bookstores (how many of you have been doing the same all these years?). Michael and I have often spoken about our bookstore but only as a dream; it is only in the last few months that we have begun to think that it might be possible. Our secret weapon is that we don’t expect to make any profit from it, although making our overhead back would be wonderful. Michael can translate at the counter, in between helping customers, and so be generating income and running the store at the same time, while I would have a part-time job, partly for the additional income and partly for the health insurance. It doesn’t sound so crazy and we would be living in a smaller, possibly Southern town, where living would be cheaper.
I used to think that it would be frustrating to have to stock trashy mass-market paperbacks and shoddy, glued-together-cardboard hardcovers; I love beautiful editions and good design, Vintage Crime Black Lizard Classics, Penguin’s Great Ideas paperbacks, Virago and Persephone Press for the ladies, Melville Press, old Modern Librarys and old Pleiades and new Gallimards… oh, the list goes on. But do they pay for themselves. Well, if our profit margin does not need to be high, then we don’t need to stock based on market realities. This attitude is what I’m talking about, (although we would never stock so sparsely… so many more books that one could fit!). This store in NYC was also thought-provoking; I dream of and yearn for their Essay Section, as does Michael for their Philosophy Section.
Some of the details are still cloudy, some are not. I would depend on my mother for help with the layout and design, we would not have a cafe (I’ve done that enough) and I have a secret desire for desks with green accountant’s lamps which could be rented out as writer’s spaces, but they probably take up too much space. I would on no account have African-American Literature in it’s own section… ugh, I abhor that practice. I would love a bookshelf in the front that could be used for monthly themes. We’d have more used than new, but only in excellent quality; I, for one, like my books in good condition and I have often had a to leave a book I wanted because the pages were musty or the cover was crumpled. We’ll be open every day except Monday, like they do in New Orleans. MyLove and I would be together a great deal, but, in a small store, we could also cover the store alone so that the other could get out, maybe alternating days. Ideally we would live over the store. Does it seem so crazy? I don’t think so. Wouldn’t you love to come and shop in our store? I would love that too. And, if you did come to shop at our store, I imagine you would walk out and say to each other, “They look so well! But I’m not surprised they ended up here.” I wouldn’t be either!
The only certainty is the name: Book Lovers. Do you like it? Well, I’m off to bed… with my book and MyLove. Good night, my friends!