How do you buy books?

How do you buy books?

How one buys a book is important to me, as you might have guessed by reading my blog entries. The featured image is a photograph of one of my favorite bookstores in Paris, France–Village Voice Bookshop–now closed unfortunately. I spent many many hours in that bookstore between 1997 and 2004. How do you buy books? When you want a specific title or author, how do you go about it? If I want something specific, I go online. I might try calling a bookstore, or if I happen to be near one I might stop. Mostly, and from experience, most bookstores do not carry what I want specifically. The internet is now my big box store. I haven’t stopped at a large national big box store for years, other than Half Price. What I want in a bookstore is a knowledgeable owner / manager with a passionate staff of employees. Big box retail employees don’t want to talk to me, even if they are passionate about what they sell. More is not necessarily better. A small but well curated selection is much more valuable to me than thousands of square feet of bookshelf that has to be filled with titles, any title, as long as they fit the section denomination: Dog Grooming, Christian Science–I know, an oxymoron–Sci-Fi, Business Finance, Literature, and Vegan Cooking… or whatever. If it doesn’t fit neatly somewhere, it won’t be given shelf space. A store like Brazos, for example, carries anywhere from 14K to 16K titles, all of them carefully curated by the manager and the employees… that smaller store becomes much more valuable to me...
Fire on the Mountain, by Terry Bisson

Fire on the Mountain, by Terry Bisson

“What if John Brown had won at Harper’s Ferry? The classic SF novel of a Black utopia in the American South.” Fire on the Mountain, a novel Paperback: 208 pages Publisher: PM Press; Second edition (October 1, 2009) Language: English ISBN-13: 978-1604860870 It was suggested to me that I buy Fire on the Mountain by one of the booksellers at the Houston Anarchist Bookfair. I had a really good chat with the folks from Solidarity Houston, and when I asked what book I should read, Fire on the Mountain was put in my hands. I didn’t ask too many questions. I had never heard of Terry Bisson, nor about Mumia Abu-Jamal, who wrote the introduction to this second edition. The story is grounded in a socialist and futuristic 1959. A researcher has just come back from a months-long trip to Africa that was delayed. Her daughter is living with her mother in law. The researcher is carrying a doctor’s leather case from last century with the journals of her great-grandfather who was a young boy at the time of John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry. His wish was that his great-grandson take those papers and read them publicly on Harper’s Ferry on the 100th anniversary of the successful raid. He wrote his journal in 1909. She missed the date, because of her research back in Africa, and is taking the papers to the museum dedicated to the raid, to donate them. We discover her story, the story of her great-grandfather and his relation to John Brown through his journals, and a larger aspect of the narrative through letters written...