Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Looking for the Right Books

(pic taken from here)

(Putting this up in advance as I'll be crossing the international dateline by today. See you on the other side!)

Admittedly, I didn't have enough time to check out the bookshops as much as I wanted for this trip because of priorities. This is sad because for the first time in my bibliophile career, I know the books that I want, where I can get them, and how much I want to pay for them.

In this case, my focus is on genre books like science fiction, fantasy and horror. I know that these books can be found at chain bookstores (like Borders and Barnes & Nobles) but I also know that my chances of finding the right books will be higher in smaller independent bookstores or those shops that specialize in these books.

Unfortunately, I missed out on a few indie bookshops in San Francisco for the simple fact that these stores close by 6 p.m. (Yes, we're spoiled in that Metro Manila is 'a city that never sleeps'.) These include Alexander Book Co. off Market street and Feldman's Books on El Camino Real.

Meanwhile, my fond memories of Stacey's Bookstore on Market Street is all that's left after I learned that it closed early last year. I also didn't have time to pass by Books Inc. (also on El Camino Real) when I saw it on the road. That's okay though as I was on my way to another great indie bookshop, Kepler's also in the area, where I picked up some new and 'gently-used' books.

(One good future strategy: I should check out university towns as these have a goodly number of indie bookstores. El Camino Real has Stanford while a number of bookshops are near Berkley.)

Other options I've managed to explore are the secondhand books in libraries, the Salvation Army and Goodwill shops-- really cheap and you might find some treasures there if you're patient enough. Alas, the selections are too haphazard in the Salvation Army and Goodwill and these places are too scattered to really make it a worthwhile venture.

As for libraries: gaah. I know libraries serve a good purpose in society but I really felt depressed at seeing the nicely-stocked science fiction and fantasy shelves of the Westborough Library. I had the strangest feeling that I should be running out of the library with those books in arms shouting, "Set these books free! They should be free!"

Anyway, it's all easy come, easy go. Still, I'll be glad to be back in Manila where one already knows all the favorite book haunts and what to expect there.

(NB: The blog where I took the above picture of Kepler's Books is incredible. The guy is doing an extensive book tour of small indie bookstores and all the places he's been to is incredible. I wish I knew about this blog before I went to the US.)

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