I am a self-acknowledged book geek. I love books. I love reading them. I love holding them. I like the feel of the paper. I don't mind when the ink of cheap novels smear all over my fingers. I love fiction, non-fiction, poetry, science fiction, and fantasy. I love graphic novels, I look cookbooks and design picture books.
I get the current fascination with e-readers like the Kindle and Nook, though I haven't felt the urge to buy one. I know an e-reader would be a lot easier for reading on the bus or train. An e-reader would also allay one of my great fears: running out of books while on vacation. However, that would also deny me a great pleasure, namely exploring great bookstores while on vacation.
Last evening, we had some time to kill before dinner and happened upon Explore Booksellers in Aspen, Colorado. Rob needed a new book, and we both love independent bookstores. The store is in a cute, little house. All of the tiny rooms were filled to the ceiling with shelves packed with books. I've been in similar stores in the past, and they often have an chaotic, musty sense to them. Explore was organized and very neat, which made exploring the extensive collection so much more enjoyable. While they did have a cafe upstairs, I was happy to note that the smell of the books completely outweighed any aromas that might have come from the cafe.
Of course, I left with a new book. I have so little control in a bookstore. I love wandering around, picking up books based on their title or cover. I like reading the backs or jackets. I appreciate when the staff highlights books by making little displays on tables or shelves. In one of my favorite bookstores, Unabridged in Chicago, the staff write up little reviews of their favorite books and tape them to the shelves. After a while, you learn which of the staff has taste most similar to yours and you seek out their reviews. It's like having a personal book shopper. I don't get the same experience shopping online; I will buy through Amazon if I know there is a specific book that I need. However, there is no joyful experience. I love browsing for books and getting suggestions from staff, and I will almost always leave an bookstore, especially an independent local store, with a few books.