When Reading Pays The Rent

Walmart is fascinating. Shopping after ten is an experience that you both can’t miss and never want to happen again. The opposite can also be interesting. Mom and pop stores do exist in the Netherlands, but in a different form. My favorite encounter with an American mom and pop store was last summer. During our car rides I had seen a small book store a few blocks from miss Missouri’s apartment. I had determined it was at most a fifteen-minute walk, so I decided to check it out. After a solid forty minutes of walking in the intense Missouri heat, I arrived at the book store. It was at a small store strip, one of those places where several smaller stores and a ridiculous amount of parking spots are placed alongside the road. The book store is cramped in between a Subway sandwich shop and a shady nail salon. Note that book stores for me are like malls to a stereotypical teenage girl. Sometimes, my neck hurts on Sunday just because I’ve been reading book titles in a 90 degree angle all Saturday.

The best thing about American book stores might just be the chairs.

The best thing about American book stores might just be the chairs. They also prevent a pain in the neck afterwards.

The store was small, to any standard. It didn’t help that too many book cases were actively occupying too many square inches. While I spent hours browsing the books, I started wondering how the guy that owned the store could ever pay his rent. I walked around for a long time and nothing else happened in the store. Nobody walked in, nobody called on the phone and the owner was not actively selling books on the internet, but rather getting high on his own supply. I decided on three books and wanted to pay. The well-read man got up from his chair, strolled to the register and added up the prices for the books. In the middle of this process, the phone rang. He looked at me as if he wanted me to tell him what to do. He answered the phone, looked up a book in his system and then told the tele-client that he did not have the book he was looking for. When he had hung up, he looked at me again and shook his head in disbelief. ‘What do you know’, he said, ‘it always gets busy when I’m just having a customer.’

Do you have a favorite book?

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10 thoughts on “When Reading Pays The Rent

  1. hahahah! It might just be the area of MO. In Southern CA, it’s not that way! We talk so fast and are in a hurry all the time…even if we aren’t going anyhwere, we are in a rush. Most stores have a flurry of activity. If they don’t have a lot of customers, they quickly go out of business because commerical rent is so high. Phones always seem to be ringing.

  2. ”book stores for me are like malls to a stereotypical teenage girl”. Definitely the same here! I’m addicted to the old yellow paper smell in books and the more aged the book, the more I covet it. Faded writing, soft pages and endless tales. Bookstores are my heaven. 🙂

  3. I recently adopted a part time job in a book store…I say “adopted” because it is something I love and would likely do for free…okay, maybe not for free, but for very little pay. Oh wait. I do do it for little pay.

      • Recently, I was informed of a perk of this job. We get to borrow books as long as we don’t break the spines. Only problem is that I am not exactly a delicate reader. I have broken more spines than the world’s worst chiropractor. Part of the problem is that, like most women, I have a purse filled with everything but the kitchen sink. This does not make for safe book transporting. And I never leave home without a book. Any tips on how to cart a book around with you without killing it?

      • O my, I wouldn’t know how to handle that. Whenever I borrow a book, I’ll refrain from opening it all the way, so that the spine even seems unused. So I’m afraid we’re in opposing camps here 🙂

  4. There’s book stores and there’s book stores. The brightly-lit, well spaced aisles with books neatly organised by genre and author don’t excite me but a small book shop smelling of must and dust, with cramped spaces and books piled higgledy-piggeldy on the floor, on stools, and shelves, in an order known only to the proprietor – these are the shops that excite me, luring me in with the promise of literary gems to be discovered. I could (and have) spent hours in those shops !

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