San Francisco bookstore is about 18" deep


Is ‘tiny bookstores’ becoming a thing just now?

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Walk by this thing every day.

It’s really more of an alleyway with sliding door covered shelves than a bookstore.

That anyone thinks that Helsinki bookstore is remarkable is a sign of how long it’s been since bricks and mortar bookstores were viable. I thought it looked pretty much like all the bookstores in the Nob Hill/Polk Gulch area when I moved there, 15 years ago now. I think there were four or five within as many blocks. I believe the one on Polk Street, also the most claustrophobic, lasted the longest after Amazon: more than a couple, though, closed their doors without much regret. The owners just moved to selling books on Amazon full time, and kept their businesses going full on minus the rent.

You can buy books in it. Good enough for me. I say it’s a book store.


Does being a bookstore mean paying rent in a building of some sort?

There are people that regularly sell books from atop simple blankets in VENICE BEACH. I see them selling books in the same spots every week. Technically they’re just as much booksellers (in 7 square foot spaces) as the imposing Foyle’s multi-story bookery on Charing Cross Rd London

In this case, I don’t feel that size matters…a poor shaved ice raspado seller in East LA on a bicycle using a wooden crate to prepare and hawk his frosty wares is as legitimately a purveyor of sweetness as a $10,000 per month rented Pinkberry. Of course, the poor man in East LA can’t do the volume of a Pinkberry, but he satisfies a specific need in his immediate community…and that’s what salespeople and sellers are supposed to do. Niche marketing…hey!

When I started at UCLA in 1974 there were several bookstores like that in Westwood, “the village” we called it, in unconscious longing for Manhattan. I learned as much about literature and art walking the aisles of these stores with their floor to ceiling stacks of used books on every subject as I did in classes. Before the internet it was actually hard to find out about things outside the mainstream. The used bookstores of Westwood provided a resting place for the engaged mind.

These stores weren’t put out of business by Amazon, they were put out of business by the big chain bookstores and the university claiming local business for itself. This is why I had a hard time feeling much sympathy for the chains when they fell to progress. They were a step on that road and did not last long at all in retrospect.

I remember walking the same aisles as the stores closed and were replaced by video game parlors and greasy grease burger joints. The last remnants of the fabulous human culture on display had a sad sameness about them. All that was left were failed self help books, out of date tax advice tomes and endless boxes of ancient NatGeos no one needed because they already had boxes of their own at home in the garage.

I did not sense then the passing of a moment, but there it was.


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