The bookshop dream
There are ideas that come out of nowhere and go someplace. Other ideas stay in the nowhere. Maybe this one will go somewhere, who knows.
It came to me thoroughly out of the blue. Wouldn’t it be neat to have a little shop where you’d find bookcases full of second-hand books, comfy chairs, free snacks and coffee, and maybe even a glass of wine? There’s be nice music playing. You’d come in, browse a bit, pick something up, sit down, grab something to eat and/or drink, and read. And it wouldn’t cost you anything. You could take the book home with you, even.
I know; there are regulations to follow. Serving alcohol, especially, is difficult to do without a permit, and these cost money and bla-bla-bla. But I like the vision of a neighbourhood place where you can drop off books you’re done with, pick up a new one, socialize and relax. It would be like an oasis of calm and inspiration.
There would be prices on the books and food and drink items, but they would be suggestions. People who can afford it could pay more, to support the venture, because it would benefit those whose budget is tighter.
Alexander McCall Smith in the Scotsman wrote about the beauty and usefulness of independent bookshops. Although he doesn’t say it in so many words, the piece is kind of like a love letter to a profession many of us fear may one day disappear, that of the bookseller who actually knows something about books. Like Adrian at The Word in Montreal. At least, that’s how I read it.
I love all bookstores. Every time I’m in Montreal I try to make the trek to Milton St to enjoy that place, the smells, the chaos (although I’m sure it makes sense to someone, just not me), the stifling heat in the summer months. Big commercial stores are cool, too. It’s shiny and brightly lit and pleasant. Love quirky second-hand shops, and everything in-between. But they’re there to sell books.
This idea I had in mind was to have a slightly different purpose: to be a place for socializing among neighbours and the discover new authors. The book-selling bit would be the means to an end, not the end itself.
It’ll probably go nowhere. But it’s still a nice dream.