Thursday, September 26, 2013
In a small town on Spanish Ibiza, there's a small book store called Libro Azul. Earlier this summer, I went there with a friend to buy her a small gift. My first choice going in was Siddharta by Hermann Hesse, followed by The Magus by John Fowles, and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Murakami (Arundhati Roi's The God of Small Things or Olga Tokarczuk's House of Day, House of Night would be great, too)
I knew it was a long shot that a small indie store would have those books in English. I expected a bland soup of Da Vinci Codes, 1001 Shades of Gray, and icy Swedish thrillers where even the prose has been viciously beheaded. My friend and I walked straight to the small English section that consisted of about three hundred books, and to my shock this small independent book store in sleepy Santa Gertrudis on Ibiza had the first three!
That's right. Out of three hundred books in English, Siddharta, The Magus, and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle were all there!
"What a fantastic selection you have," I said to the owner, trying hard not to hug him to death and shower him with the kind of atrocious kisses you would expect from deranged novelists.
"I want people to read good stuff," he said with a shrug, "so when they ask for a bad book, I try to convince them to buy a good one." He picked up The Big Book of Pussy that was lying on the front desk for all kids to see. "With a few exceptions, of course," he added with a big smile.
A few minutes later we walked out of the store, with the firm belief that independent book stores will survive absolutely everything, including cockroaches and who knows, maybe even Amazon?
A young reader dreaming of Harry Potter and Pippi Longstocking? What would she do in a world devoid of small indie book stores that prefer pulp from the sublime? Even kids can't be online all the time. So I've been told, anyway.