I buy far more books than I really ought. I know that there’s a library just down the street, and yet I want to know that if I really love a book, I can come back to it again … and again. When I was little I decided I would save all the books I bought and one day have a library filled, wall-to-wall, with books. At the center, there would be a cozy leather armchair, a small table with a lamp, and possibly (if I’m imagining a particularly rich future) a fireplace. I still like the idea of having a room with wall-to-wall bookcases, and so I continue to accrue books (though I try not to buy them too lightly), and I slowly fill my shelves.
But buying books seems to grow more and more complicated as I’ve grown up. In second grade, I remember ordering most of my books from the thin Scholastic pamphlets and then they magically arrived in the mail. Occasionally, I took a trip to the library or the bookstore with my mother.
Then in high school I began working at a Border’s Books 15 minutes from home, and I took advantage of my employee discount when I needed something to read. In college, there was the overpriced but admittedly convenient University Bookstore, and for the time I’ve spent in Paris, I bought most of my books at the Abbey Bookshop, a tiny hole-in-the-wall English-language book seller.
I am an impatient book buyer, I’ve found. Where I buy my books matters to me only where I have an emotional attachment to a particular spot. For example, in Paris I will take the metro for 40 minutes just to be able to pick my selection out of Abbey Bookshop’s wobbly piles of books. I’m willing to do this because I interned there, know the owner, and have grown to love that little shop and the big odds it is up against (Amazon.com, for example). But at home, I confess I have a hard time thinking about anything except convenience when it comes to the store I choose. A Barnes & Noble was just built 5 minutes from my house ‚ and it has coffee to boot — so that’s where I go. Occasionally I feel a little guilt for patronizing a store that really doesn’t need my help to stay in business and can only be described as corporate, but it hasn’t been enough to motivate me to change.
If I could feel strongly about supporting another store in KC, I’d go there, but as things are, is it really so wrong to buy books from Barnes & Noble?