When I’ve started reading The Bookstore Strikes Back in the newest Atlantic I was thinking, well this is another nerdy lady who has too much of free time and is trying to make a fuss around her. How wrong I was. Or actually how well Ann Patchett is able to tell this story. As I’m always saying, I would read manual to screw driver with flush on my face if it was written by Stephen King. Some people just have this gift to tell even most boring story as if it was in fact the greatest adventure. And Mrs. Patchett has ability to sell any, even the craziest, idea just by creating interesting story around it. And she sold it to me.
Let’s face it. If any other mortal, even with bigger money, would’ve got an idea to open people friendly bookstore, just as they used to be, he would most probably fail. But if you’re recognized author then you have big gun in your hands. The free marketing campaign plus fans who would support any idea just because it’s yours. So you’re cutting huge costs at the start, marketing and building of social network. It’s a little bit cheating. But hey, if big companies can cheat why not the small ones. This way of starting business feels a little fishy to me. Also the perceived success is a bit blurred as article starts with mention on how many books writer and her colleagues had to pack and send, and how many orders are yet to be processed without visible end to it. Granted. But this is achieved via Web site, so where is success of bookstore here? Any comparable novelist could probably achieve the same using ebay and not bothering with opening physical store. So I’m not buying this part of the story which describes how good old bookstores can be brought back to life and that we just need to fight for them. There should be one popular author in every city to achieve that.
But despite the fact that entire business is based more on popularity of Ann Patchett rather than people longing for bookstores from their childhood, the shop described here is just perfect. I would really love to have one in the place I live. The new bookstores are nothing like friendly places. Sure, you have sofas and armchairs, so you can sit and read part of the book before buying it. You have coffee machines and cookies making it even more pleasant. But in reality I feel really strange in these places. I don’t feel this special atmosphere of real reading place which should have a little bit of magic in it. The last time I’ve felt it was in small bookstore in Providence. Piles of books where absolutely everywhere, used books where mixed with new ones creating this special feeling I can’t really name. Place was a little bit dark, so you’ve felt alone even if there were other people around. In such place I can really sit and enjoy the book. And I believe the bookstore from the author childhood was just like it. Is the one she opened like that? I don’t know, but I want to believe so. And am hoping that somebody would start one near me.