Cities and suburbs, real and imaginary.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Reason Indie Bookstores are Extremely Nifty #425

Independent bookstores reflect the inner life of the community that they serve. Imagine a BookPeople in Austin without that "lived-in" feeling of rough woods, rugged shelves, and the faint smell of sawdust, and it just isn't the same. BookPeople reflects the sense of style of the urban cownoy city it serves. Imagine Dark Delicacies without all the awe-inspiring horror movie memorabilia, and offering beers during booksignings. Dark Delicacies - a very awesome store, indeed, with some of the best litmag selection I've ever seen - reflects the horror readers of Burbank.

I'm at a new indie bookstore in Plano - don't ask what I'm doing in Plano, at this point, I'm not really sure myself - but I had some time and I was nearby, so I popped in to check it out.

The place screams Plano. It's over-styled. Everything is clean and glistening in stylish off-white and dark brown and metal. The shelves are arranged in odd ninety-degree angles here and there, as if placed by a Feng Shui interior decorator. The clean off-white walls and metalic touches contrast the deep browns of the store's furniture and shelves. I'm sitting in the cafe, and the tables and the benches don't work right. You see, some designer chose a bench that is low and squishy, paired with high, hard tables. I'm trying very hard to lift and extend my arms while maintaining my balance and posture comfortably in this seat. Really, this isn't the kind of place you'd want to sit and type chapters of a book.

Whilst at BookPeople, in their cafe, I typed an entire chapter, and it needed very, very little editing. Here, I'm concentrating on keeping my balance with my computer at such an odd, high angle between bench and table.

This place is over-styled. It doesn't feel like a bookstore as much as it feels like a place that turns into an exclusive four-star restaurant after dark, that humble scribblers like myself would be unable to get a table at, much less pronounce the menu.

I don't seem to belong here, alas.

Related note: my book was not on the shelf. BookPeople had three copies of my book in two different places.

Being in Legacy Books, I'm happy there's an indie book store in Dallas/Fort Worth. I dropped some Christmas-shopping cash here, because I believe that Indie Bookstores are going to save us when the blockbuster model of publishing implodes. We need about three more in town. One on Greenville Avenue, and one between TCU and Downtown Fort Worth. Also, I think the HEB-Airport corridor could easily support one.

I don't think I'll be coming back again to this store for a while, though. This is the kind of place where you could imagine ad execs shopping for business books to give to their secretaries, without any thoughtfulness whatsoever. Also, cookbooks. You could picture lots of cookbooks happening here. All of them written by people with TV Shows, and restaurants in places where people show up for lunch in very expensive business suits.

In short: it's so Plano. It's just so Plano. This store, like nearly every indie bookstore, reflects its community in design.

I feel like I'm standing in the imagination of your average Plano-ite.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the mention. Very (Hic) kind

Dark Delicacies

Anonymous said...

I have looked and looked for an indie book store in Winston-Salem, NC but no luck. Sad.

Mary C

Anonymous said...

I think it's been clear for a while now that you are destined to move to Austin, like so many of us who got here as fast as we could.

Come on, Joe -- BookPeople awaits! They'll save a corner table for you.

Shawn Scarber Deggans said...

I also noticed that the kid section in the new Plano store is way in the back, sort of hidden and out of sight--you know, the way people in Plano like their kids.

Which is probably why my first instinct was to burn the place down, but that damn glass and highly polished steal just wouldn't catch fire.

J m mcdermott said...

When I parked there, I actually had to park at the historic cemetery that is now utterly surrounded by upscale retail and yuppie townhomes and parking garages.

It just seemed kind of... disrespectful(?) to huddle all that consumerism and upscale couture culture right to the boundary of a historic cemetery. So much so that the parking lot for the cemetery was also for the retail complex.

I just don't understand Plano. I just don't. I don't want to, either.

I'd love to move to Austin, Patrice, and spend every weekend type-type-typing at a table at BookPeople. It would make my millenium. However, I need a job there, first. No job in Austin? No move to Austin. Them's the breaks.

I'm looking, but no one has even asked for an interview.