Thursday, March 03, 2005

Booked Up is closing

The best bookstore in the world is closing its doors--in all five buildings--at the end of the year. Mr. McMurtry says that the number of customers is dwindling, and he's getting too old to keep up the business. It may open again...someday. If I had the millions that it would probably require, I'd buy the place from him and run it myself. I've always wanted to own a bookstore, and Booked Up is exactly the type of store I'd have, with a few modifications. Its five buildings each house their own genres, but beyond that the books aren't in any particular order. It's the perfect environment for browsing. The heady scent of aged paper fills the air. Rare and obscure literary gems await discovery somewhere upon the towering shelves. If you're lucky, you might spot Mr McMurtry himself shelving or pricing books.

Booked up has two disadvantages: it's not very easy to get to, unless you live in nearby Wichita Falls. Otherwise, the nearest large town is Dallas, 100 miles away. You have to be a pretty dedicated bibliophile to make a special trip there. The second disadvantage is that you can't buy their books directly online. There is a request form that you can fill out if you're looking for a specific item, but that doesn't quite cut it. There is a large market among serious collectors if Booked Up's rare volumes were more easily accessible. Mr McMurtry has some seriously rare books among his collection, many beyond the reach of my pocketbook, that true bibliophiles would love to know are there. The real money in the used book gig is to be had in collectible volumes: rare, antiquarian, first-edition, signed, and limited-edition. If you don't push that part of the business, you aren't going to do much better than break even.

But I digress. Booked Up will be greatly missed. It's the flagship in the dwindling fleet of quality independant book stores. I already had a trip to there planned for May. I'd better make the best of it.


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