Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Strand Book Store - New York, NY

Huge.  Frickin huge.  Four floors of books, and the main level has them on shelves from floor to ceiling.  Imagine the thrill to a book lover to walk in and see this vision.  Probably the equivalent of a candy lover walking into Willy Wonka land.  I absolutely loved this place despite its massiveness.  By far the largest independent bookstore I've visited to this point.  The trade off for this incredible size is that it loses a bit of the intimacy that most indies have as part of their character.  I was ok with that this time.  In addition to all the books they also sell various souvenirs, also more then I've seen at any other indie so far.  Also, one floor devoted to vintage and collectables (read: expensive!).

Because it is so huge they have employees everywhere, a huge staff.  They also employ a security guard at the front entrance.  Fred Bass is the president here (not manager, president!) and I had my pick of the multiple employees to ask if I could see him to tell him about my project and ask him to sign my book, My Bookstore.  I went up to a group of three employees and asked if I could see Fred.  The three exchanged looks and hushed whispers.  "Fred?  Is Fred here?  Oh, I don't know.  This is highly irregular.  Oh, Fred is a busy man.  Well, I just don't know sir."  Nobody sees the great and powerful Oz, nobody no way no how.  So, I played my trump card when visiting distant indies, "I came all the way from Iowa just to see Fred and have him sign my book."  Ka-ching.  You may see the great and powerful Oz.

Fred was in the back of the store, seated in the middle of a very long table surrounded by multiple staff members.  He looked to be sorting through arrivals of used books.  Of course, he was very nice, very gracious.  Signed my book and wished me luck in my quest.

One of the fun things about visiting all these bookstores is seeing the books they have on display to the public.  Every bookstore is different in what they display which is one of the things that makes the visits so interesting.  Since it was difficult here to really talk to Fred or anyone else about some recommendations I just picked out one that they had displayed.  Bobby's Book, by Emily Haas Davidson as told to her by Bob Powers.  I picked it out because it looked like a distinctive New York book about a guy born in Brooklyn in 1942 and running the streets in a gang.  Haven't read it yet but it looks like it will be good.

No coffee shop but in NYC you can throw a rock and hit one without trying.  There was one right across the street called The Bean.  Great place, small and crowded.  The Strand?  5 stars all the way!  Go to an indie and buy a book.  Bonsoir!
See the 18?  This place is nicknamed "18 miles of books!"

The Bean is right across the street.  Great place!

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