Saturday, May 9, 2015

This is Why I Love Bookstores

The other day I had a dentist appointment, but as usual I was early and had some time to kill. Happily Horb's bookstore is just a few steps from my dentist, so I popped in there for a few minutes. I don't think the store has a website, but it's located at Hirschgasse 17 (the internet is wrong - she has relocated from Christophorusbrücken 1).

Look, Amazon is great. There's almost nothing they don't have, delivery time is quick in Germany, and searching online is easy. But it's still not a bookstore. The kind where I can wander in, amble around, flip through pages of books on display, and ask for assistance finding just what I'm looking for even when I'm not quite sure what I want.

Granted, I rarely ask for help because I love browsing. But one of these days I will ask Frau Kohler to recommend for me some German historical fiction novels written originally in German, because I do not want to read English books translated into German. I'm pretty good at finding historical fiction on my own, but I want to make sure they are written by German authors.

In the store in Horb I usually migrate straight to the ample section about the Schwabenland, though, which is what I did the other day. I saw the usuals, some of which I've already bought and read, and some I haven't bought yet. But this one jumped out at me:

111 Reasons to Love the Swabians
I flipped through the book, spotted words like Laugenweckle, Kehrwoche, Neigschmeckter, Maultaschen, and Stäffelesrutscher, and I bought it. And then for the next few days I had to force myself to put it down - to take care of things like the laundry and Kehrwoche.

I have searched for and bought several books on Amazon about the Swabians, but still this book hadn't shown up on my recommendations from them. When I went to enter it into my Goodreads collection, I discovered it had only just been published a month earlier, on April 1st, 2015! I even wrote a review of the book on Amazon because no one else had yet done so.

But this is why, although I'm grateful for Amazon when I need to order something quickly and know exactly what I want, I will always prefer bookstores for browsing. I wrote down the titles of two other books I saw that day that I'd like and found them on Amazon for the same price, but I will return to our little bookstore in Horb to buy them because I know bookstores are struggling, and I hope she stays open forever.

Spending time in a bookstore is for me what candy stores, clothing and shoe stores, and hardware stores are for other people. I can't get enough. When M and I are meandering through a town and a bookstore looms in the distance, I usually hear, "Oh no." But hey - there's usually a cafe nearby where he can have an espresso, so everybody wins!

Folks, wherever you are, support your local bookstores! Wouldn't it be sad if 20 years from now no one remembers bookstores because Amazon has taken over the world and we can't hold real books in our hands anymore before we buy them? I can't tell you the number of times a book I later loved has all but jumped off a shelf into my hands and screamed, "Buy ME!! I am the book you came here for!" That's never happened to me on Amazon.

P.S. I just have to add one of my favorite lines from this book: "Würden Psychiater nicht so viel kosten, hätten sie hier im Schwäbischen bestimmt mächtig was zu tun." ("If psychiatrists didn't cost so much, they would have a load of work here in Swabia.") That said, the author, Jo Müller, presents Swabians in a very positive light and really shows what there is to love about these people and their land. I sometimes feel like I know a lot about the Swabians, being an observer of them for quite a few years - since long before I moved here. But I learned a pile more from this book!

1 comment:

  1. Haha, love that quote from the book! Sounds like an interesting read.

    I'm with you about loving bookstores! You're so right about how sad it will be if Amazon completely takes over. Back home we have a bookstore called McNally Robinson which is quite a big store, similar to a Chapters, but it's an independent Canadian chain and is family operated. They showcase a lot of local authors and I think it's so great! I think when I'm home I will make an effort to head there more rather than just choosing the convenience of Amazon all the time!