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Other People's Books: Guest Post by Tamas Dobozy

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The thing I love about independent bookstores is how much is missing. They don’t have room for stacks and stacks of the latest iteration of The Lovely Bones. (Is there anything as disheartening as seeing the name Sebold beside the name Sebald on the shelves of a bookstore? Of course, peopled always have to get past Dobozy to get to Doctorow, so maybe I shouldn’t talk.) What they do have room for, just barely, is the distillation of a certain taste in reading, a canon of novels and poems and plays and essays peculiar to whoever runs the store, whatever he or she thinks is a worthwhile continuum of titles and authors and subjects. I’ve always loved that, in whatever city or town I am, coming upon an independent bookstore (and there are less of them than ever) and being treated to someone else’s mind, to a series of books more often based on quality and sensibility, rather than the quantity-driven ethos (by which I mean whatever deals have been made with various publishers as to how many books will be ordered, where they’ll be placed in the store, how long marketing demographics have determined they should stay on the shelves) that you get in the big chains, whose similarity from city to city, even country to country, manages to be bewildering and depressi …

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