DISCLAIMER: In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is recommended to practice forms of social distancing, which may include refraining from non-essential shopping. While supporting local business is vital to the community, mitigating the effects of this disease should be a collective priority. Take precautions and stay up-to-date with information from government and health officials.
The bookselling industry has undergone a dramatic transformation over the past 20 years, with publishers scrambling to stay ahead of the technological curve. The rise of cloud-based reading services is increasingly stripping literature of its material nature. This has prompted the corporate booksellers to broaden their market and product lines. Now, Barnes & Noble and the like rely heavily on sales from merchandise and tech sales to stay profitable.
Consequently, the bookstore experience is being distorted into a fluorescently-lit gift shop extravaganza. The joy of literature is muddied by the sounds of sales teams pushing the new high-tech reading tablet on their patrons and disgruntled couples arguing over what overpriced toy to purchase for their children.
I might be exaggerating, although my point isn’t entirely in jest. There is something to be said about the corporate profiteering of this deeply treasured pastime. My objections to chain booksellers are simple; I do not support the price gouging and sanitized feel of these businesses.
Perhaps you feel similarly displeased with the current bookselling culture. Any sane person would agree that paying nearly $100 for three or four books is an injustice. Or maybe your qualms are based more on aesthetics. I certainly prefer a bookstore with natural lighting, dusty and obscure novels, and the creak of a wooden floor following me as I peruse the stacks.
One bookstore in our fair city fits that description to a T: Alexander Books. This locally-owned oasis has been peddling literature since 1989, and recently changed ownership as well as location.
Alexander Books is a calm environment. The store is located inside of an older house, with furnishing that provides comfortable places to read and a homelike feel that simply can’t be replicated by your local Books-A-Million.
When you walk in, generally at least one of the four owners will be present to greet you with a smile and answer any question you may have. From there, a whimsical exploration of the house is bound to occur. Every room is lined with bookshelves, with personable wood-engravings labeling the various genres among their selection of books.
The pricing is reasonable, and their inventory is unique. I particularly admire their collection of Louisiana literature, fiction and nonfiction alike. Nothing feels artificial about Alexander Books. It’s a quaint experience, and superior to the overly-commercial vibe of the corporate chains.
Additionally, their bookstore doubles as a venue for live shows and other sorts of events, such as their “Awesome Eating and Drinking Club,” where you can have conversations about books over food and beverages. There’s plenty of opportunities to check out their space even if you aren’t interested in purchasing books. They even welcome people to use the store as a study space.
Alexander Books is located on 2116 Johnston St., so stop by and grab a few books to read through during these tumultuous times of quarantines and health-based seclusion. Be sure to follow them on Instagram @alexanderbooks and check out their website at alexanderbookstore.com.