Finding a home in Boston-area bookstores

One of the things that makes a place “home” for me is a good local bookstore. When I lived in Philadelphia, I frequented the campus bookstore, a local Borders, and several smaller places in West Philadelphia. Never did find that one that just felt right to me, though…

So now that I’m in the Boston area, I’ve been wondering where to go that’s not too far (i.e. all the way into Boston/Cambridge). There is a Booksmith in Wellesley that I tried and tried to love, but alas, the inventory just isn’t up to snuff. The campus bookstore carries books for courses almost exclusively. And I suppose I could go to the local large mall area to find a B&N or Borders. But frankly, I’m just not that interested in heading to the mall area on a regular basis.

Imagine my delight, then, to find the most AMAZING bookstore in Newton Highlands, near a place where I go every week anyway. It’s called the New England Mobile Book Fair. And when I walked in, my jaw dropped and I knew I was home.

For the curious, here’s the deal. Books are arranged in a completely out-of-the-box way. Division number 1: full-price vs. remainders. Within full-price, division number 2: hard-cover vs. paperback. Within those, division number 3: adult vs. children. Within those, division number 4: publishers vs. subject areas. Within the publisher areas, division number 5: title arrangement vs. author groupings. It’s completely illogical to me, yet it works! They don’t have an inventory control system per se, but use Books in Print to determine if something is in print. Then you walk to the publisher area first, and subject area second, because a book could be in either place. The serendipity is stunning. And what I like about the shelving in each area is that it’s by title rather than by author. So no, I can’t see (most) authors’ full works, but I can do more random browsing, as I’ve got no way to really tell what I’m looking for. They are a very Long-Tail business. An inventory control system would help them immensely, but their quirkiness makes up for it.

Coolness: They had almost the entire set of offerings from Seal Press.
Coolness: More AMC books than you can shake a stick at.
Coolness: 20% off paperbacks and 30% off hardbacks every day.

I highly recommend this place.

One thought to “Finding a home in Boston-area bookstores”

  1. amazing. i’m so glad you found someplace so nearby that you love. if only it happened for me someday…. as is, i drive an hour, easily to my favorite bookstore.

    aaaah, so you’re reading long tail? i read his blog, but haven’t looked at his book yet.

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