BREAKING NEWS: It has come to our attention that the nondescript little bookshop located on McDonough St in Decatur, GA is, in fact, still open. While the owner of Books Again will be the only one puzzled by this news flash, the rest of you all will be relieved to know that the bookstore you’ve passed at various times of the day and thought “I didn’t know there was a bookstore here. But too bad, it looks closed (or, But it looks a bit run-down)” is alive and, if not flourishing, soon may well be once we all read this story.
There is something exciting about having a secret bookstore in one’s own town. It makes for a bit of a through-the-wardrobe experience. You push open the front door, a bell tingles and a white cat greets you with an indifferent meow; you’ve entered the well-stocked realm of second-hand fiction, Southern literature, African-American fiction, American history, Philosophy, Mystery and a large selection of collectable books.
While there I picked up a copy of Kazuo Ishiguro’s An Artist of the Floating World (because I enjoyed The Remains of the Day so much), The Portable Chekov and a lovely gold and burgundy hardcover bound collection of PG Wodehouse’s Summer Lighting and Blandings Castle. For the moment, Luke and I are taking a break from The Magicians and satisfying our PG Wodehouse fix. It’s been a splendid vacation so far.
I feel guilty for never visiting Books Again. When I was a student at the college just down the road, I used to walk by the bookshop (adjacent to the similarly void-looking barber shop) and write it off as unopened. If it had the bright neon Open sign that it does now, then I don’t know how I could have made this mistake. As the bookseller remarked: “You must have been walking by at midnight.”
In any case, my happiness at having found it now is tampered only by my sadness of knowing business for Books Again, like most second hand bookshops, is far from booming. Despite having a web presence and an online bookstore on Abe, Books Again is getting the short end of the stick in this recession. Then I suspect there’s another issue. I’m seeing how book lovers like myself often fall prey to the publishing buzz call to buy the newest and most talked about, when truthfully, I know for myself, of the books I’ve read in the past year, the ones I enjoyed most (with a few exceptions) were the oldy-goldies, the been-arounds and the classics. The kind of books you’d find at Books Again.