Bookstore tourism

Just got back late last night from Seattle, where I’d spent a long weekend for a wedding. To be honest, my mind was mostly on other things than the book biz—beer and oysters can be quite distracting—but I did squeeze in a couple of bookstore visits. Did a short walk-through at the Elliot Bay Book Company, which was awesomely overwhelming, as well as poked my head into a couple of the crowded stalls in Pike Place Market. And while I didn’t go into the chains, I was pleased to note that in the “retail core” of downtown Seattle, both B&N and Borders (for now) have prominent store locations.

What about you? When you’re on vacation in a city, do you actively seek out the bookstores? As you wander around town, do you notice the abundance/lack of booksellers? Ever make a pilgrimage to a specific bookstore, as my father-in-law does to the Strand every time he’s in NYC? Any recommendations for good bookstore city vacations? Share, share, share….

14 Responses to Bookstore tourism

  1. Claire says:

    Yes, I do! I turn straight to that section in the Rough Guide, though once I’m there I tend to feel a bit silly just doing that instead of the classic sights. Very glad I made it to the Strand in New York – amazing place…

    And next time I am in DC I will make it to Politics and Prose: I have loved it since I first learned its name. And it’s a vital part of the fabric of DC… when I am somewhere new I like to get a feel for where the “real” people hang out. Which I guess is one reason I even go to Barnes and Noble when I go to the US – I want to experience real, normal, everyday America. Plus, since I live in a non-English-speaking country, I get excited at being in a big bookshop with lots of English books at reasonable prices…

    Little plug for my favourite bookshop in Brussels – Cook and Book – it’s stylish food and bookshop all wrapped into one – genius!

  2. Ara Burklund says:

    Of course there’s Powell’s in Portland, but here in San Diego, Mysterious Galaxy is a cool little independent worth a drive up to Kearny Mesa.

  3. I think it’s always fun to go into bookstores with UK editions. I’m always jealous of there covers. Hopefully that doesn’t make me shallow. :)

  4. Amy says:

    Capitol Hill Books in DC was a delight. Most adorable sassy categorization system ever! See: http://i22.photobucket.com/albums/b334/lanna786/otherplaces/IMG_0983.jpg and http://www.flickr.com/photos/reckless6275/197491757/

    Still, the best bookstore I ever stumbled into was Atlantis Books in Oia, Santorini. (Adventure chronicled here: http://simplelittlebookworm.blogspot.com/2011/01/invincible-summer.html) It made the Lonely Planet’s Top 10, and it’s so charming. It’s also in trouble (http://www.indiegogo.com/Atlantis-Books). If you could blog or Tweet or spread the word about this beautiful little sunset store, it would be to the benefit of book lovers worldwide.

  5. I joke that I make trips to San Francisco to shop at City Lights–not only for books but an occasional sighting of Lawrence Ferlinghetti. If I travel, for work or pleasure, the first place I look for is the local independent bookstore, where I will not hesitate to buy all the books I may at any point plan to read, most recently Joseph Fox in Philadelphia and Tattered Cover in Denver.

    Sadly we’re missing an independent bookstore in Dallas now, having lost Shakespeare and Company and, most recently, Legacy Books.

  6. Teri C. says:

    The short answer is Yes. My husband and I map out — and I mean with real maps — which bookstores we need to visit whenever we travel. As far as a favorite, my #1 vote goes to Black Swan Books in Lexington, Kentucky. Off the big city grid, I know, but it’s in a gorgeous old Victorian mansion, it’s well-organized, and they have a great collection of First Editions, Signed books, etc…. http://www.blackswanbooks.net/

  7. Lynn says:

    Speaking of Shakespeare and Company, how can a book lover come to Paris and not visit this famous landmark?!

  8. The next time you are in Raleigh, North Carolina, visit Quail Ridge Books and Music. Chances are you’ll get lucky and be there on one of the many nights they are hosting a book club, writing group, author visit or musical concert. Their programming is wonderful for both kids and adults. Definitely worth a visit.

  9. Oh yes, I spend hours at a time at Powell’s in Portland every time I make the three hour drive down from Seattle. No other place quite like it!

  10. John says:

    Thanks for playing, everyone! Lots of good tips here. By the way, Ara, did you see the news that Mysterious Galaxy is opening a second store? PW ran the story this morning.

  11. Ara Burklund says:

    Wow! No, I didn’t. That’s so cool! Amazing for an indie to expand in this economic climate!!!

  12. Amie Kaufman says:

    I always hit Shakespeare and Co. in Paris, and here in Melbourne, Australia, one of the first things I usually do with tourists is haul them around to some of our fantastic indies, like Readers Feast and Hill of Content.

    I just got back from a trip to New York and made pilgrimages to The Strand and Books of Wonder–I’ve got one blog post published and one written about the books I bought there, and why. Bookstore tourism of the geekiest sort (and proud)!

  13. The Tattered Cover is my favorite bookstore in Denver. My blog sister loves Books of Wonder in NYC, and I’m hoping to make a trip there at some point.

  14. You can click here to read a PDF file of my book “Bookstore Tourism.” It’s loaded with tips and it’s free! http://www.larryportzline.com/BookstoreTourism.pdf

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