Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Reading the Bookstore

The Book Store Next Door has been open for two years. When we decided to expand Charlotte Elliott into the shop space next door it had already been a book store for a number of years and we knew that it would continue to be a book store, because that had always been a great dream of my father's. We toyed with clever ideas of what to call it: Gutenberg's Fault or The Turned Leaf were ideas on the table but we knew that after being Charlotte Elliott for six years that no matter what a sign said it would always be The Book Store Next Door. Why fight it?
In two years we have run out of shelf space and discovered other ways to display the thousands of previously loved books we have cultivated. There is an armchair in the second level that holds all the knitting, cross-stitch and crochet books. Right next to that arm chair is a retro knitting basket full of polyester yarn and knitting patterns.
Our shelving system is unique but it seems natural. History flows into Economics which in turn flows over to Philosophy and then Theology. Fiction, Sports, Science, Cultural Studies and Anthropology take up large sections of the Book Store. Maps and Art share a section very close to Birds. Edgar Allen Poe and H.L. Mencken share a full bookcase. But you can also find Mencken in the Language section with Dictionaries and foreign language manual. My father says we are probably the only shop on the Avenue that has a Bulgarian to English Dictionary for sale. Sherlock Holmes is currently developing it's own section and of course Shakespeare has half a bookcase that he shares with Proust. The Cookbook section is probably the largest category taking over two full bookcases and a tabletop including piles on the floor. And yet our section of books on Horticulture, Gardening and Agriculture is also quite extraordinary (it includes quite a few books on notorious vegetation such as "Pot" and "shrooms".
My favorite spot in the whole book store is the upper area, I call it Outer Space. This is a scape of books and furniture and musical instruments and rugs. I like to find a book to read and a cozy chair up there and read when I get a moment. I find many customers who do that before they decide on which book to buy.
One more secret about shopping at our book store: we leave the "love notes" in the books. Because these books have all been previously loved and read they have often been the repository for notes, four leaf clovers, letters and recipes. Many a volume has been discovered with devotions and love letters tucked within. We leave them there for you the new reader to discover. They are part of the history of the book and deserve to be carried on to the new owner.

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