Let me clear this up, right up front. I bare no ill will toward Kindle, online stores or even new book stores. That being said, there is something different, something unique, something magical, about used book stores.
It is the rare writer who doesn’t love reading (I have met one, however) and the rare writer who is not inspired by a great used book store. For me, they often serve as an inspiration, a source of motivation, when a chapter isn’t flowing the way I’d hoped or a story isn’t quite where I think it should be. I jump in the car, pick one of the used book stores in the area (which are painfully becoming fewer and fewer) and immerse myself.
The smell of the store. The almost always jumbled presentation and complete lack of organization — which can, admittedly, be frustrating, but frankly, it’s part of the charm. You never know when you’ll find a great travel book shoved between some Louis L’Amours and Elmore Leonards.
Pick up an old paperback and leaf through it. Who bought the book new? Did they like it? How’d it wind up here, for sale for 50 cents?
Leaf through some 100-year-old hard covers. Look up front for inscriptions — “Merry Christmas, Love Grandma” is the most common one I’ve found. Flip through and see if you find any pressed roses or notes, something tucked away long ago, of some importance at the time and now lost to history and indifference.
Talk to the person behind the counter, who is almost always a fanatical reader and a wealth of information. See if they can’t direct you to a special treasure, maybe buried deep in a seldom-visited row but just waiting for you to discover it.
Grab a couple of old Westerns. Heck, even if you don’t read them, it’ll help keep the store alive, and you can at least savor the covers, many of them works of art that bring more pleasure than the words inside.
And stop in front of the Western section, usually tucked in the back on the bottom shelves. Imagine your book(s) one day being there. I’ll share a little secret. I carry a few copies of my first Western, “Coyote Courage,” in the car. I’ve been known to slip one onto the shelf, usually next to Zane Grey or Frank Gruber, depending on how well-stocked the store is. I imagine someone stumbling upon my book, having never heard of me or the book, but deciding to buy it anyway. And usually, at that moment, I’m ready to get back to work.
I wish you good writing, and if you have a question or something you’d like to share, send me an email at [email protected].
Thank you, enjoy and keep writing!