Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Bookstore roadtrip, Pt. 1

Linda and I went on one of our bookstore roadtrips.

I was commenting to Linda the difference between the north and south route up I-5 and up Hwy97,

To check out bookstores on 97, we'd see the one used bookstore in Klamath Falls, the two in Bend, the one in Redmond, and....that's it? New bookstores, the one in Sunriver and two in Bend, and....

Whereas, the same number of miles on I-5, we could visit the bookstores in Ashland, Medford, Grants Pass, Eugene, Salem, Roseburg, Portland, and any others. Dozens and dozens.

Oh, I left out the used bookstore in Chiloquin. I'm always amazed that this exists and that it is so full of books. We drove by at first to see if it was open. We saw the old owner in the doorway, with all the OPEN signs, so we turned around and pulled in.

The owner was gone, lights out. It was cold....a kitty came in and hopped up on the table and lavished furry attention on us, but ....no owner. We waited some more, and finally left.

"I think the old guy turned into a cat," I said. "He's a shapeshifter."

Linda just shook her head.

I've often wanted to just disappear when I see some customers coming, but I've never quite had the guts. (I'm joking, of course, but Linda wanted to be sure that everyone understands she doesn't feel the same way.)

We drove on to Klamath Falls, and checked out the used bookstore there. Basin Books, I believe. I took a book and a half with me on the trip, knowing that I'd be seeing so many bookstores that I'd probably be buying a bunch. I struck out here. The organization was a little confusing. Sometimes I think stores can have too many categories, or slicing the categories a little too finely. Mysteries seemed all over the store. Authors I think of as mystery writers, in regular fiction and vice versa.

However, this happens, as Linda and I well know.

It was busy, being a Saturday, and I believe the only bookstore there other than a Borders Express, which we also dropped in on.

Gave me the feeling of 'second place' to a Barnes and Noble --it was a smaller version, but still...didn't quite have as classy a feel.

We took the mountain cutoff to Ashland, and arrived in time to grab a room at the Stratford Inn.

Woke up the next morning with a crook in my neck; which means either I was really, really tired or the bed was too soft. Linda liked the amenities -- a coffee bar, a nice breakfast nook. There was a rugby team staying on our floor, and when I saw one of the guys getting on the elevator with a case of beer, I thought, "oh, oh." But they quieted down or moved somewhere else after about 10:00.

I pulled out the Yellow Pages and found what looked to be at least a dozen bookstores...some were obviously in Medford, so I didn't write those down. Instead, we drove around and tried to scout out the stores on the busier streets. It being a Sunday, we figured there might be a few bookstores open on Sunday in the downtown. (As I mentioned the other day, Medford/Ashland is the third most vibrant bookstore scene among metro areas in the U.S.)

We found Rogue Books and The Book Exchange, both closed. Peeking in the window, they were pretty typical inventory; Book Exchange signs and floor layout more of an industrial feel, and Rogue Books, being in a renovated old firestation, more of a neighborhood bookstore feel.

I also peered in Fun-a-gin games, which was impressively packed with games -- more mainstreamy than I would have thought (I guess I expected a bunch of exotic euro games). Could see they had cases and cases in a backroom; I think they do a lot of mailorder and discounting...)

It being nearly 10.00, we parked the car downtown Ashland and started walking. Turned out, we had a whole day of bookstore visiting to do....


Anonymous said...

Would love to see your review of:

The Book Bin
Brower's Bookstore
Grass Roots Books & Music

all within 2 blocks of each other in downtown Corvallis.

Leitmotiv said...

Did you chat it up with the Klamath bookstore owner? I think she was expecting you after my visit there last summer.

Duncan McGeary said...

We seem to hit these places when the owners aren't around, for some reason.