Buy the Book
You would think I would be the kind of person who loves bookstores. But I find bookstores, and fabric stores, immediately overwhelming and overstimulating, and upon entry I usually feel like one of those little little kids who, when confronted with the wondrousness of Santa Claus, bursts into tears. I stagger around the store, picking things up randomly, make a panicked grab at a purchase, and then fall out the door, wild-eyed and gasping. Which is why I have a strange assortment of fancy bookmarks and random fabric squares. I feel bad about this response to these wonderful places. Just recently I was in Shakespeare and Company (which I’d only just found out is not actually THE Shakespeare and Company, which was elsewhere entirely and no longer exists, but merely a grabber of the name)(about which I was feeling somewhat bitter), and I actually had to sort of force myself inside, just to say I was there. I picked up some book about economic theory, put it down again, squirmed past people in the aisles speaking in various languages, and popped out again. I love the idea of bookstores. The reality is too much for me. Especially saddening is that bookstores are likely filled with my kind of people. So my voluntary exile leaves me apart from the kind of people who will listen patiently to a customer trying to describe a book they are looking for and will magically lead them to the very book. (My friend Susan the book queen famously immediately responded to my “what’s that book…something like Big Shoes…,” with nary a sneer, eye roll, nor moment’s hesitation, “You mean The Giant’s House?” On the cover of that book is, as you may recall, some big damn shoes.) Online book shopping is slightly less overwhelming, as it’s more linear in its experience. Small Press Distribution (SPDBooks.org), which is an online distributor for hundreds of small, independent publishers, presents a reasonable home page, and now offers a glimpse (called Peek Inside) into the books it sells. But first I have to decide which category to begin looking in. New poetry? SPD Staff Picks? Do I peruse the News and Reviews? (I did, as a way of easing into the site, visit my own page on it for Perpetual Motion. In addition to the Peek Inside, the site also notes how many books of any particular author it has in stock. My book has sat at 7 for a long long time. Could someone please make it 6?) Then I got sidetracked by the New Arrivals scrolling down the side of the page. I don’t know. I’m still trying to decide what to get. Maybe they have some nice decorative bookmarks.