A Visit to the Bookstore: The unnecessary sequel

Out browsing books yesterday at a big box retailer, I was feeling giddy. The store was going out of business. The inventory was decimated. Regardless, I hoped to find a few gems left in the wash.

Several sections still had books—philosophy, religion, literature. Looking to fill my own bookshelves with philosophy, literature, religion, fiction, translated classics, even anthologies with featured editors, my mind ticked with the possible and the probable.

This was going to take a while.

Starting with philosophy, I browsed for Plato or Socrates.  They had left the building. What remained was an odd lot. Some masters and some 19th century know-it-alls. Either way, most of the remaining books were focused on a modern, ethical analysis of each.

I sought religion. Finding it, the books looked sifted-through and passed over. So, I’m late to the party? Perhaps I still find a nice version of the Torah or the Bible—something with footnotes, filigree, even pop-ups—for the uninitiated and dubious?  Instead there was a shelf filled with Christian faith perspectives. I shuffled through a few titles but nothing called out to me. Figures.

Turning East, I spotted a copy of the Mahabharata. It was a tired, pulpy paperback. Searching for some redeeming quality, I flipped through its pages for translation notes and illustrations. Nada and forget it. (I’d rather watch the eight-hour movie with subtitles.)

Breathing deeply, closing my eyes, I realized that I may not find religion. I exhaled. Opening my eyes, I met Buddha. Realizing there was plenty more to consider, I chose to walk away with the Dalai Lama.

Hearing bells, I thought I found enlightenment. But it was only my husband calling. He was waiting on me to go golfing. My inner peace dissolved. Darn.

Glancing at my watch, I figured I could take a few more minutes for myself before rushing home. I passed the remaining sections of classical literature and headed straight for the section that feeds my more base pleasures—horror.

As it turns out, this section truly was a horror. Authors were out of alphabetical order. Genres co-mingled with mysteries and romance.  Seeking favorite authors and storylines, I searched high and low.  Looking for ghastly covers over southern belles was driving me crazy. Who should I look for first? A favorite author or character? A tawdry thriller I would never pay for at full price? I couldn’t focus. On top of it all, I was now in a rush to get home.

Spinning from shelf to shelf, my eyes twitched, and my vision clouded. Breathing faster and feeling desperate, I stopped.  I realized that I was going to get myself in trouble and buy the wrong book, meet the wrong character, even make a bad decision. I decided to leave before getting into trouble.

Perhaps I will finish my search from my e-reader?

Monday, August 22, 2011. Today’s post was inspired by a visit to my local Borders bookstore. I doodled the image on my iPad using Artrage. ©2011 Steph Abbott All rights reserved.

Going Out of Business: A visit to the bookstore.

Everything Must Go

Economic forecasters say that bookstores are on the decline. The rise of the e-reader is taking over the market providing efficiency, convenience and direct access to millions of titles. Have the brick and mortar stores lost touch with the customers? What were they buying that isn’t selling?

I decided to log off and jump in the car to see for myself.

Walking into the big box bookstore, my eyes landed on a display table. It looked like the standard fare—hardcover books and paperbacks. New releases and publisher retreads. Books in a bookstore. What was going wrong?

Lifting my eyes, I saw about twenty of these tables. Some layered with books. Most layered with candles, fleece blankets, glass beads, headphones, and greeting cards. Huh?

Wandering past the tables, the rest of the store spread out like a discounters dream. There were a myriad of kiosks, bins, shelves, and wall hangers all covered with a myriad of items. I found pencil cases, markers, journals, maps, backpacks, ladies purses, and even Christmas ornaments.

Strolling to the back of the store, I found myself surrounded by DVDs, posters, games, toys, wooden puzzles, and Lego building kits. Where were the books?

Finally, looking back, past the potpourri, my eyes finally glimpsed the last half of the store. The section with books. Several shelves looked ransacked, some untouched. Like the rest of store items, they were marked 40% off retail price.

The store was going out of business.

Sunday, August 21, 2011. Today’s post was inspired by a visit to my local Borders bookstore. I doodled the image using Illustrator. ©2011. Steph Abbott. All rights reserved.

E-Reader vs. Book

E-Reader vs. Book


  • Light
  • Sucks energy
  • Naked
  • Monotone
  • Bookmark
  • Unscented
  • Smooth
  • Talks
  • Tweets
  • Musical
  • Multi-tasks


  • Heavy
  • Sucks air
  • Often wears a jacket
  • Colorful
  • Dog Ears
  • Scented
  • Rough
  • Quiet
  • Listens
  • Doodle-friendly
  • Multi-tasks


“Huh,” I mumbled after finishing the book. “That was good but odd. The ending…”

My mind tumbled through the storyline again.

It revolves around two brothers. One good. One bad. Bad childhood. Traumatic event. Psychological damage to both. Bad brother has unresolved issues. Young maiden enters the picture. Bad brother does bad things. Good brother confronts his past in a more socially acceptable manner.

Basically, it is a well-crafted thriller. However, something about the book continued to bother me. I started to mumble again.

Keepsake is a good thriller. The storyline was believable. The author developed her characters and used a few plot devices. My interest was at it’s peak, I want to read more.”

I then picked up the book again.


Thursday, August 18, 2011. Today’s post was inspired by NaBloPoMo‘s prompt, “What was the last book you read?” The book was Keepsake by Shannon Novelo. I created the image on my iPad using ArtRage. ©2011. Steph Abbott. All rights reserved.

Considering Moe’s Books

Moe's Books
Moe's Books in Berkeley.

Rainy afternoons during my early twenties often called for a stroll to Moe’s books on Telegraph Ave. Perennially busy; the windows steamed before I even opened the doors. An aroma of sweat, patchouli, decaying paper, must, and mildew greeted me.

If enticed by a window display with a new cover, I’d journey down the cement lattice stairs to the sub-level for a peek at what currently charmed the bourgeoisie and intelligencia. More often than not I would make a beeline towards the elevator on the left.

Rarely did I find a need to journey to the fourth floor for a glimpse at a rare book. There were too many used books to keep me busy on the second and third floors.

My literary tastes wandered the world and the times. Sober but caffeinated, my mind would expand among tomes of history, sociology, and theology. I often hovered between social commentary and classical Greek.

My budget lacking, I read as much as possible without buying. I might have spent six bucks on an anthology of modern American essays—as long as it included some Studs Terkel. Yet I would I balk at peeling back a few more dollars for an illustrated version of the Bhagavad-Gita. To this day, I covet a particular translation of Euripides’ Bacchae.

Most of the time I considered the feel of uneven bindings, frayed edges, dog-eared passages, and gold-foil embossed titles. Often I daydreamed about the possible motivations and inspirations of play writes, beats, theologians and their editors. Not a scholar myself and working two jobs just to pay rent, I considered their motive mostly monetary in nature.

Once in a while I would catch glimpse of a cat slumbering upon the stacks or in the window. I bet it was comfortable up there.

It’s been over 15 years since I have visited that store in Berkeley. My memory may even be off a floor or two. I know the proprietor passed on shortly after I moved away. Heck, I don’t even know if the physical shop is even still there. However, my heart knows that my favorite bookshop is still Moe’s. Brick and mortar or rainy day or not.

Today’s post was inspired by NaBloPoMo‘s prompt, “Talk about your favourite bookstore.” I created the image on my iPad using ArtRage. ©2011. Steph Abbott. All rights reserved.

Dog Ears and Mildew: A look at owning a book

Owning a book entails more than simply purchasing, trading, or borrowing it. It is the process of choosing the book that truly enhances the read.

While I find great efficiency with my e-reader, I prefer the more traditional fare. Whether trawling through the stacks of an independent seller, sifting through family castoffs, or zipping through a monster box store, I find myself drawn to the printed page.

Part of the draw may be the aroma of inked pulp or even the must of mildew. Perhaps it is simply my secret compulsion to dog-ear the pages?

From genre to literary focus, my eyes flit from cover art to typeface. My hands caress spines and flip through the pages. In the end, the authors, characters, and topics grab my interest.

This near-ritual drama transforms my decision to choice. The choice may be a used book or a freshly pressed publication. It could be poetry or prose. I will read it with relish, and I will own it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011. Today’s post is inspired by the NaBloPoMo prompt, “Do you prefer to own books or borrow them from a friend or the library?” I created the bookcase on my iPad using ArtRage.