Slice of Life: Book Shopping...Isn't What It Used to Be



Do you ever just catch yourself doing something and laugh at your own ridiculousness? I can make simple things hard. I can make quick jobs take forever. I can get mesmerized by craziest of side adventures. Today was one of those days where I had to chuckle at myself a bit. 

Today I made my bookstore visit very 2021. 

To begin, it should be noted that technology has certainly changed the way I do a lot of things. If I need a recipe, I almost always go to the internet. A simple search will result in several recipes and then I choose a favorite. It's changed the way I listen to music. Who would have guessed some day I'd hold all of my music right in my hand? Even crazier, who would have guessed I wouldn't have to own all the music to play it. Hello music subscription services. Looking for a new place to eat? Hello, YELP. Need a map? Google. I could go on for days. 

Some things just aren't like they used to be. Sometimes that's a bad thing - and sometimes it's divine.

Though technology has given us a million conveniences, I still love a good book store. There's something about walking the shelves to discover new books that I just love. For the first time, in well over a year, I made it to a book store. Visiting the Book Loft had been on my list of 21 Hopes for 2021: activities I had been unable to do because of COVID. (It should be noted, checking it off my list leaves 12 more adventures I still hope to get to do this year.)

One of the perks of retirement is that I can do things when it isn't crowded. The Book Loft has 32 rooms. I couldn't wait to get inside and spend some time wandering rooms and shelves. Once inside, I spent the bulk of my time at the new release display, the best sellers display, the children's section, and the poetry section. 

Of course, book shopping isn't quite like it used to be. I no longer just stroll the shelves looking at the displayed books to make my selection. Oh no, this is 2021. In these technological times, no longer is meandering through bookshelves enough. Now on bookstore visits I need to have my library app open, the digital book app open (for me that's Overdrive), and Goodreads. Book selection is a tricky process. Though I always make a purchase when I visit the bookstore (I'm all about supporting our local bookstores.), I want the purchase to be the best one possible. 

The Book Loft is a great place to roam room to room to shelf hunt for titles. I'm still a sucker for books on end caps, books turned with front facing out, and books in which multiple copies await. While I used to read the jackets, scan the table of contents, and occasionally read a page or two, now I open Goodreads to learn more about the book. (In a pandemic this isn't just a preference; it is also a good health practice.) When a title catches my eye I check the rating, read the description, and sometimes take the time to read a comment or two. Then one of the following actions occur:
  1. I move on. "Nope this isn't going to be a match for me." 
  2. I add the book to my Goodreads "want to read" page.  "I don't want to lose track of this title." 
  3. I reserve the book at the library. (This most often happens in the case of picture books and poetry as both often look better in real print.) "I want to read this book to know more about it." 
  4. I request the digital copy to read. "I want to read this book, but I don't have room for it on my shelves at home. It will be one and done." 
  5. I purchase the book. "This book needs to be on my shelf. I'll reread it again and again." 

I think the ridiculousness of my process really struck me when I found myself in the poetry section for quite some time with my phone in hand. (To be fair, I'm pretty sure the Book Loft has one of the most extensive poetry collections anywhere!) I'd find a title, check Goodreads, read the description, read comments, and then still possibly look up the poet at the Poetry Foundation. Yep, I bought two books from this section. Apparently my ridiculous process makes me need more poetry. ;o)

By the time my bookstore visit ended I had books in my hand for purchase. I'd added quite a few books to my Goodreads "want to read" collection. I'd reserved books to be held at the library. Additionally, I'd requested a few digital copies. Apparently my ridiculous book shopping ways work a bit. While my decisions seemed more informed, there certainly is a lot to be said for simpler days.





It's Tuesday. Today I join the Two Writing Teachers Community to share a little slice of life. Stop by today's Two Writing Teachers post to join the conversation or enjoy a little snapshot of life. 

Comments

  1. Cathy, that is quite the process, but it sounds very productive and effective. I learned a thing or two from your five actions. I would love to get my shopping for books together a little better! Thanks for laying it out so succinctly. And enjoy the purchases, library holds and digital borrows too.

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  2. It sounds perfect! I can’t wait to go to bookstores again in an English speaking country! I love all your shenanigans:)

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  3. First of all, Cathy, I want to congratulate you on your retirement. It is a different adventure than teaching but I see you are still seeking more for your professional tasting plate. I never heard of the store you mentioned but it sounds fascinating. Your inquiry path is a good one. I must admit shopping has changed.

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  4. I, too, miss real life book browsing - in a store or in the library. I get such a tactile pleasure from reading - and from browsing. It will come back some day.

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  5. I like how detailed and thorough your book selection process allows you to organize books in multiple ways. I'm the type who wants to own all of the books, so this process is worth trying, at least for the titles to be purchased. This book store sounds like a dream.

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  6. Cathy: 32 rooms!? Oh, wow, I hope they've got chairs (not that they'd be an option right now, but still...) and coffee as well! I'm really jealous of the poetry section you mentioned. The big box stores have the obligatory shelf or two, and for some reason (okay, money) the smaller stores in my town don't have much of a selection. I'm also envious of your discipline. I ordered a book just yesterday based on a "Fresh Air" interview.

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