Monday, May 17, 2010

Nothing Beats Book Stores

I have been an e-book fan for quite a while and have just upgraded from the Kindle to the iPad. 6% of the market is now in e-books and I expect Apple’s invention to perhaps double this.

Nonetheless, nothing beats a quiet Sunday afternoon in the traditional book store. Last week I was in London and whiled away a couple of hours at two of my favorites – Daunts and Hatchards. Daunts is the best travel bookshop on earth. It has two whole floors dedicated to stories, guides and myths broken down country by country. It has the most contemporary writings alongside the great classics. It also has an absolutely wonderful creatively curated children’s section where I was able to pick up a couple of personal favorites for Stella.

Daunts is in Marylebone, just a short walk from my all-time favorite on Piccadilly, Hatchards. Five floors of imaginative, beautifully selected, beautifully laid-out books. Including lots of signed versions which I am still a sucker for. Particularly interesting is a temporary promotion on the first floor, where store personnel have selected classic books from every decade and laid them out in the middle of the section. I spent a great half-hour browsing through the classics that molded a lot of my thinking in the ‘60’s, starting of course with Joseph Heller, Catch-22 – my favorite book of all time.

Books have always been my most favorite thing in the world, even ahead of music. And Hatchards and Daunts are classic Lovemark experiences, dripping with mystery, sensuality and intimacy.

The iPad does a great job in bringing to life these three things in the actual delivery of the book, but nothing compares to that sensation of physical discovery when you are actually in a book store that is run by people who love books (and the people who buy them).


Tom Hampson said...

Thanks Kevin, this weekend I was in the USA and visited Barnes and Noble - I was supposed to spend just 10 minutes, while my wife and son waited, turned out I was there for over an hour... I bought 5 great business and marketing books. I love how B&N have created "nook" (electronic book) with first class designers like Jonathan Adler and Kate Spade.

Kate said...

We were doing a survey for a uni classmate recently and one question was 'what are the three things you can't live without?' - the first thing that came to mind was my books (and my health and my sense of humour).

sas said...

Kevin - you might also enjoy a visit to foyles next time you are in town.

In Charing Cross Road, they have an urban garden and a cafe. Plus the best ever jazz selection on the planet.

I'm a kiwi living in London and back home Unity Books in Wellington is a favourite.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kevin.
I would have Catch-22 in my Top Ten books. I would probably rate "Fred Allen on Rugby" higher though. But how can you rate what a book gives to you? Where you read it, the time in your life, the acquired knowledge, the improvement to your self...books enrich in many ways. I recall exploring Whitcoulls (as it is called now) in Queen St during my schooldays. Most times were spent browsing the vast magazine section for fear on being spotted by a teacher from school in the book sections. But each visit back to Auckland often involved roaming around the store again. Many purchases later, the allure of books is a vibrant part of life.