Finding a used bookstore, I figured it would be as good of a place to study as any other.
I have not been in a used bookstore for years, and entering, I felt a sense of baffled astonishment that establishments like this could still exist today, competing against the convenience and affordability of the internet and namely, Amazon.
Used books crowd the shelves, pile on top of each other, sit quietly in leaning stacks; they are disorganized and chaotic, scuffed and torn and highlighted. And, standing in between the rows, surrounded by them, it all begins to feel a little unreal. Outside of the bookstore there’s cars going by, there’s the homeless guy who asks you for change, and the grocery store you have to get to to pick up toilet paper, cereal and the other mundane necessities of everyday life, but none of that exists in here.
A used bookstore is excessive, extravagant. 99% of those books will never be bought, and it’s hard to imagine they make enough money to cover costs. It’s the ill-logic of the place that creates its appeal. It shouldn’t exist, but it does. It’s an anachronism, a place out of time. You step inside and it’s so quiet. Dust filters through the air, and the air smells like paper and glue and bindings. It’s almost like a church, in a way, so separated and unreal from the things we experience and deal with in our day-to-day routine.
It’s reassuring, to see all those old books piled high on the shelves. It’s comforting to know that places like this can still exist in our modern world. And so, while a part of me still wonders how a place like a used bookstore can make sense today, another part of me knows I’ll be back again tomorrow.