My Ideal Bookstore

by Mira

I love architecture, and I love books. So I've always thought about an ideal place for books. I've seen many great libraries but not so many dream bookstores. Here are my thoughts.

I love buying books at bookstores. I love the experience of opening one book after another, walking past shelves, looking around, noticing where books and shapes are placed, and how the design of the space invites you to check out various areas of the bookstore.

I love it when bookstores are located in old houses, with a basement, an attic, and great, luminous and large, rooms.

I love it when bookstores also sell CDs and DVDs. And teas. And children’s books and toys, and cards, and notebooks, and art books. I also love it when I can stop from browsing books to enjoy a sandwich and a cup of coffee.

Yes, I have lots of love for bookstores (and libraries).

Read on for thoughts about my dream bookstore.

If I had a mind for running a business and the money to start one, which I don’t, I would have opened a bookstore a long time ago. Here’s how I have envisioned it.

A Film Projection Area

This comes from a combination of sports bar design and library design. Sports bars have big TV screens where fans can watch soccer games (and other sports). Some libraries have nooks where you can watch DVDs (with headphones on).

I say, if you can't have a large room dedicated to film screenings, have at least a corner with small open booths where people can see films on DVD.

 

Well, what if you have a bookstore with a soundproof room with a nice projection screen, the kind you have in conference rooms or art museums. Then simple benches, just like in an art museum. There, you have your own little cinema theatre.

It would help DVD sales as well. People may not have time to watch the whole movie or TV series there, but if they’re hooked, they might purchase the DVD or DVDs to watch at home.

Open Space

I love open spaces in libraries, and staircases winding out of the main room on the first floor (UK: ground floor) to the left or right (or both) of that room.

I also love it when a more modern building has open space between two floors, with some railing on the second floor (UK: first floor), and both floors filled with light from the fixtures on the ceiling. I would then prefer the furniture in sparse geometric Art Nouveau style, with more decorative and colourful Tiffany or Tiffany-style chandeliers. See the cover of the book to the right.

Haven’t decided what the wood essence and color of the furniture should be, since I like many options: white, light brown, reddish brown, etc.

Café Area

It’s wonderful when you can sit down with a few books and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea as you decide which books to buy. This would increase sales tremendously. Spending more time with the books might convince you to get them all, after all, and not just one or two.

A café area would also be a great place to host a book club. And that, again, works for sales as well. People would be given a title for the next meeting and would head into the bookstore to buy it right away.

A Meeting Place for Writers

As Katie suggests (see under comments), if would be wonderful for writers to have a bookstore where they could meet and exchange ideas. I'll be thinking about what this place could be exactly. Of course, it could be the café area, where writers could sit down with their laptop and actually write.

But I'm thinking there should be a nice round couch somewhere, something like two rounded halves facing each other, with a coffee table in the middle. Writers could come there and even leave a copy of their book for people to read. In fact, many writers might want to do that, so it would be a good idea to have a narrow shelf dedicated to books that writers could bring into the bookstore for other writers and bookstore customers to comment on. Authors could leave with the book their Web site, blog address, Facebook account, or other info about their whereabouts online, and other writers could contact them with comments about their book(s).

Selling Tea and Coffee

Well, first of all, I would sell only great tea and coffee in the café area. Then I would make all that tea and coffee available for sale in the bookstore.

Carlotta and Her Magic Birds
Carlotta and Her Magic Birds
Art on the Walls

I love it when cafés host art exhibitions. I’ve seen some great works this way, including a few I would have really liked to own. Partner with artists this way and it’s a win-win-win situation for artists-owner-customers.

Vertical Stands with Notebooks

Some of my favorite notebooks are Paperblanks notebooks with great covers displaying a facsimiles of manuscripts by famous writers (as well as works by great artists). Paperblanks also has other nice designs, some of which you can see on Amazon.

Apart from those, other notebooks are spiral-bound Jordi Labanda, Agatha Ruiz de la Prada, and Miquelrius notebooks (made in Spain), Clairefontaine and Moleskine notebooks, and others. I also like custom notebooks created by artists.

Asking the artists to create these notebooks through print-on-demand companies would be another opportunity to collaborate with them: artists could include their work not only on the cover, but also inside the notebook, in places marking breaks between various sections, which the artist may or may not designate in some fun way.

All these ideas I’ve seen done, but I've never seen them done in one place!

What does your ideal bookstore look like?

Updated: 02/27/2013, Mira
 
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Mira 9 days ago

Sounds like fun :)

DerdriuMarriner 9 days ago

Mira, Very nice! My ideal bookstore follows your floor plan but looks like a cavern with cave art, Flintstone-like furnishings, Frank Lloyd Wright-like floors and skylights. But I haven't figured out what to do about the moisture!

Mira on 10/23/2014

I agree, they would make great companions to lots of coffees and teas. I would love to see them at coffee houses and, yes, bookstores!

Guest on 10/23/2014

Mira, I came back to add something I'd like to see in an ideal bookstore: chocolate ganache desserts! They partner well with coffee, tea, and other beverages, and they add elegance to browsing, pondering or reading experiences.

Mira on 12/01/2013

You've said something beautiful in there. Thank you for your comment, Emma!

Guest on 12/01/2013

Mira, The new library here has an auditorium with a great movie screen. I watched "Man of Steel," and I appreciated that they included captions cuz the higher volume sometimes distorts the words.
I agree about art museums, which have been favorite haunts for me since childhood.
Perhaps one day I'll open an ideal bookstore. You never know!

Mira on 11/30/2013

And now with everything going online and electronic you gave it up? I would love to go to a bookstore and find a great movie screen there. The way you do in art museums.

Guest on 11/30/2013

Mira, Thank you for glimpses of an ideal bookstore: A place for the imagination and for the senses. It used to be my dream to open a bookstore!

Mira on 03/05/2013

Thank you, Vikk! :)

vikksimmons on 03/04/2013

Interesting idea. I love much of what you've shared.


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