As a child I loved walking down Main Street to Collins, the only bookstore on the island at the time (as far as I can remember), to browse through the books and pick up a copy of something that would take me to a world far away. Mrs. Collins, the owner, introduced me to the Bobsey twins, Nancy Drew, and the Narnia books which eventually led to the Lord of the Rings. Collins closed down years ago but my love for bookstores continues so I'm introducing an irregular feature where I focus on a particular bookstore. First up, Bonnett's Bookstore!!! Thanks so much for participating!
So tell us, where are you located?
Bonnett's Book Store was opened in 1939 by our grandparents, Harold and Ruth Bonnett, at 502 East Fifth Street in Dayton, OH. We've been conducting trade in used magazines and comic books ever since. During the Great Depression people took that "waste not, want not" idea pretty seriously. Reading and radio were the primary entertainment options in those days. Used comics and magazines were the cheapest entertainment there was, even cheaper if you traded-in what you had already finished reading.
What do you like best about selling books?
Honestly, I don't like selling; the books do that on their own. I enjoy the connections between books and culture. I don't mean the dust-layers and cobwebs, rather, the esoteric connections. I've titled our blog "Penciled Margins" to reflect the idea that there's much more to a book than the sum of the words on it's pages.
What genres are reallying flying off the shelf right now?
Classics and non-fiction are perennial movers. Though, lately, books of eccentric, niche non-fiction (UFOs and tales the weird or unexplained) have been more popular than standard fare like cooking, biography, history, self-help, and references.
Which book are you recommending to customers?
This depends entirely on the customer! We get a lot of folks who say, "I'm just looking for something to read." I try to find out what they like and we go from there.
If I get a non-commital reader I'll always ask if they've read Michael Chabon's "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay". It primarily takes place during the genesis of modern pop culture - the birth of the comic book industry in pre-WWII New York City. This novel covers a lot of bases. It's appeal is vast, which is not to say it's lowest common denominator stuff - far from it. It's a Pulitzer Prize winner! One of the best written tales I've ever read.
Science Fiction and Fantasy readers will get a lot of mileage with my recommendations, as I am a fan of the same. William Gibson is my personal favorite. His style is economical yet luxurious - "The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel." (Neuromancer - (c)1984). I'm currently recommending his book "Pattern Recognition." Like "Kavalier and Clay", "Pattern Recognition" has extraordinarily broad-based appeal. It isn't necessarily a genre novel, it's simply marketed that way due to Gibson's history with the genre. Genre be damned!
So, folks, there you have it! If you're ever in Dayton, do make sure to stop in and check them out!