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Dream Palaces—Bookstores
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Photo: Christophe Libert
For many people, bookstores are dream palaces—a place to let imaginations soar, to escape daily life. Lewis Buzbee has written “The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop,” a memoir and a history of bookstores.

A former bookseller and sales representative, Buzbee shares his passion for books and the places they are sold. In a light and entertaining style, the author writes in such a way that time floats by as the pages are turned. 

Some of his observations:

1.  “November, a dark, rainy Tuesday, late afternoon. This is my ideal time to be in a bookstore. The shortened light of the afternoon and the idleness and hush of the hour gather everything close, the shelves and the books and the few other customers who graze head-bent in the narrow aisles.”

2.  “Much of my excitement at being in a bookstore comes from the place itself, the understanding that I can be here for as long as need be. The unspoken rules we have developed for the bookstore are quite different from the rules that govern other retail enterprises. . . .Bookstores are for hanging out—often for hours.”

3.  “Books connect us with others, but that connection is created in solitude, one reader in one chair hearing one writer, what John Irving refers to as one genius speaking to another. It’s simple to order books on-line, over the phone, or via catalog and wait for the delivery man to scurry away before we open the door. But 90 percent of us who buy books still get out of the house and go to the bookstore, to be among the books, yes, but also to be among other book buyers, the like-minded, even if we might never say a word to them.”

4.  “The bookstore has always been a marketplace where the ideas of a given period were traded, and so has played a formative role in the shaping of public discourse.”

What has been your experience in bookstores? Does it matter whether they are large or small? How is your community affected by bookstores?

ISBN for “The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop”:  1-55597-450-3

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