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Weekly Bookstore Jamboree – Week 1: Everything But Books September 19, 2008

Posted by LHK in Atlanta, bookstores.
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Bookstores visited: Just 1 this week- Borders Buckhead (Peachtree Rd. in Atlanta)
What I bought: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running – Haruki Murakami (birthday present for my sister)
What other people bought: CDs, postcards, greeting cards, stickers, an LSAT study guide, and a 2009 calendar

What I looked at: Story, by Robert McKee; Savvy, by Ingrid Law; The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins; and the newly-designed paperback of John Green’s Looking for Alaska (tall and skinny, with an ad in the back for the Nerdfighters site. John and Hank, by the way, are coming to Atlanta on October 21! You know I will be there, ready to sing the Helen Hunt song).

What other people looked at: The coffee menu. Manga. The new Thomas Friedman book. The new fiction shelf at the front. The Shack. A display for a new Brian Wilson CD. Also, there was this one kid – well, picture the sort of kid that comes to mind when I say “someone who has probably never finished reading a book, ever.” This sort of kid was leaning up against a case in the neutral region between the kids’ books and the YA books. He was reading a book so intently that I think if I had knocked over the display table nearest to him, he wouldn’t have looked up. I didn’t get close enough to see what he was reading, but holy hell was I ever curious. (And I still am.) It was a high point of my week. Why a 13ish-year-old-looking kid was at a bookstore at 12:30 in the afternoon on a Wednesday is something I’ll both ponder and overlook. Was he homeschooled? Was he skipping school to hang out at the bookstore?

Bookstore notes: This is a cavernous Borders – two floors, with plenty of modes of transit between them (a regular old staircase, plus an elevator, plus an escalator that alternates its direction depending on the time of day, I guess). There’s a nice coffee bar and café with a huge seating area in a fake rotunda. In general, there’s a lot of space taken up with things that aren’t books. I always forget that these mega-bookstores have tons of space still allocated to DVDs and CDs.

There’s been a flickering fluorescent light above this store’s YA section for as long as I’ve been visiting the YA section there. They did recently expand the YA section, so cheers to that – they gave it one whole extra shelf, though somebody forgot to move the shelf labels around. Above the Zarr / Zusak shelf, there’s a sign that reads “Psychology.” Borders segregates its YA genres, which is a pet peeve of mine; one of my favorite things about YA is that so many books are allowed to be comfortably cross-genre. Borders puts the YA fantasy and SF first, and then gives the rest of the shelves to everything that doesn’t fit within the SFF spectrum.

This store used to play music that made me miserable, and at volumes too loud for comfortable book browsing. They played Sheryl Crow’s career-sorta-revival album. They played Jewel’s country album. They played Michael McDonald. This week, though, they were playing some pleasant light classical (which I could not, of course, identify). Perhaps they’ll keep this up.

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