Small Town Bookstore Blues

March 1, 2009 at 7:50 pm | Posted in Book Blather | 4 Comments

So we went to the famous reborn indie bookstore in Cloverdale yesterday.  You know, the one I thought closed but actually just relocated.

The first problem was trying to figure out where the place was.  It turns out the space is in the back of a large building that houses an antiques mall.  The second story contains some professional offices.  There is a coffee shop next to the bookstore, and the coffee shop has external signage, but the bookstore does not.  We almost walked away empty-handed when the antiques people told us it was closed for the day, but it turned out they meant the coffee shop.  (A cafe is closed on a Saturday afternoon?)  So we had to wander back through all the antique embroidered rocking chairs and old doilies and stuff, only to find that we could have come in an exterior door after all.  The owner recognized my man Rocket Scientist when we walked in.

The new space is about twice the size of the old space.  The only problem is that it has about the same number of books.

I was firm in my resolution that I would buy a book from the town’s only bookstore.  I looked around for a few titles I had in mind, but none were in stock.  My book group is reading My Sister’s Keeper, but the bookstore had pretty much every other Jodi Picoult title except that one.  The fiction section appeared to be mostly Oprah picks with some popular romance, fantasy, sci fi, and YA titles.  I was more impressed with the nonfiction section, because it had a good range of current events selections.  We finally settled on The Gunslinger for RS.

I found a Hawaii tour guide and decided to pick that up.  (We’re going to Oahu at the end of the month).  Here’s the nice part:  the shop owner told me she thought it was an older edition, and on discovering that it was from 2003, she sold it to me for half price.  Then she gave me some pointers about some of the attractions in the area.

So, there you have it.  On the one hand, personalized customer service; on the other hand, limited selection.  Shopping at the small town bookstore means trading the convenience of walking in and finding the title you want at the giant chain store for the convenience of being able to walk 15 minutes instead of driving for 40.  We know we can special order any title we want, but we are also less likely to stumble across something unusual the way we might in a big city indie shop.


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  1. It’s too bad…it sounds so hidden! Do they buy books as well? Maybe they should host a swap or something. Strange about the coffee shop being closed, too.

  2. It’s a bummer that the bookstore doesn’t stock a lot of books… And at least there is some personalization…

  3. Did you mention to them how hard it was to find the shop? Maybe they don’t realize they need better signage.

  4. Yes, we did mention the lack of a sign. Since she’s been there seven months (!) I’m surprised that it hasn’t already come to anyone’s attention.

    They don’t sell used books at all. That would seem to be the most obvious way to add more stock. Maybe I’ll mention that, too.

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