When I go to a new city, if I speak the language there or not, there are two primary categories of shops I seek out first: Bakery/Coffee shops (Brewing own beans is a Gonzo), and used book stores. I don’t LOVE the smell of old books, but old book stores themselves, with their high looming shelves and crazy filing systems, make me feel so cozy and intimate, like I’m going into a distant relative’s house.
Sadly, the Los Angeles area has few relatives for me. I have about 6 boxes of books to get rid of, believe me we kept a lot more, and I was hoping to trade them in for store credit, like I do at Ameoba for CD’s and DVD’s we don’t want to keep. Great system, everyone seems to win. Unfortunately, as I look around…no used book stores. I guess the rents are ridiculously high in LA, because the nearest one I could find is in Pasadena, about 45 minutes away, more with traffic. 🙁 The big one in Long Beach, even farther, recently shut down due to rent increases. The only ones I could find near me were those fancy first-edition places, who would probably poop on my used paperbacks by Gregory Keyes and stuff (not to insult his series 🙂 )
I’m really sad that a city like this doesn’t have a Strand like in New York (favorite place in nation) or even a chain like Half-Priced Books in Austin, where I’m from. It makes me feel like there’s no community if we can’t communally share our used books like we do CDs, Movies, Nagel paintings and gross furniture. I’d buy a lot more books than I do now if I could go get them for half-price in person, because buying them used on the internet isn’t really viable with the shipping costs and stuff. Is having only Borders and Barnes and Nobles better for the authors? Sure, because they actually get royalties every sale, and I applaud that. But I would really love to wander the aisles of a store and have something catch my eye that I didn’t expect, even if it smells a little musty, than…not having the option.