603 N. Lamar Blvd. (corner of Lamar & Sixth)
#Writing friend Robin -- the one who used to be a real estate agent -- looked around our favorite book store gathering spot in Dallas and said something only a person who calculates square footage could say: wasted space. Hard to believe when every bookstore still open seems to have cut back on the space allotted to tables and chairs such as those we sit at to sip, diss, and yes, sometimes, write.
So when I was in Austin recently for the Writers League of Texas conference, I went by BookPeople to see what it does to retain its title as the state’s premier independent bookstore. Ceilings were mostly low -- why waste space only dust motes can use? No spacious, uncluttered stairways. BookPeople stocks its stairs so thickly with merchandise I could barely push my way past all the other customers to get to the coveted second floor children’s section. All the other customers? On a weekday evening? Ka-ching and halleluiah! It’s a book lover’s paradise.
Of course it helps that BookPeople also has a great selection of books. Reading the many index cards of staff recommendations taped to the shelves was enough by itself to make my mouth water. And one of the things contributing to the traffic jam on the second floor was an author signing. Chain stores in my current city probably have to take orders from management at the national level on whether to host readings by local authors. BookPeople goes out of its way to sell books written by locals.
And don’t even get me started on the magazine section, with a significant stock of literary publications I haven’t seen on shelves in Dallas. And yes, there’s an unglamorous but functional coffee shop conveniently near the racks. If you need more sustenance, Whole Foods is located across the street. Read, leave to eat, and come back to read and buy.
BookPeople is open daily from 9 a.m. until 11 p.m. They’re closed on Thanksgiving Day and close early on a few holidays. For more information and the calendar of events, see www.bookpeople.com/
(Next Wednesday -- Larry McMurtry's all Booked Up, in his hometown of Archer City, Texas)