>A. Bitterman has some tips!
He does bring up a moral question that vexes me, though. If I want a copy of, say, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (which Betsy Hearne says I do), am I morally required to go out of my way to purchase it at an independent bookseller? There are two small independents in my neighborhood, but I can’t go into either with the assurance they will have any given book I am seeking–one is mostly remainders (Jamaicaway Books and Gifts) and the other is too random (Rhythm and Muse). I can go to the Harvard Bookstore in Cambridge on my way home from work if I take an extra bus and train, but both Borders and Barnes & Noble are on my subway line. I always drop a hefty wad of cash at the Brookline Booksmith when we go over to Coolidge Corner for a movie, but that trip requires a car (and, thus, driver, thus Richard). As far as I can tell, Boston supports no full-service independents. What’s an enthusiastic non-driving reader to do? On the one hand, shopping at an independent is, in the particulars, more fun, and I invariably buy more books than I had intended to. And in general, the existence of independents, with their handselling and appeal to big readers, allows more kinds of good books to flourish. But it has been my experience that immediate gratification wins out over virtue when shopping or reading (this is why I don’t shop online). It says something great about reading when you just can’t wait to get your mitts on a book–but it also makes it unlikely that you will wait until you can plan a day around its purchase.
I think what I miss most about Chicago is living a five-minute walk from Unabridged Bookstore. That place is heaven.