What Kind of Bookstore Browser Are You?
Jeff Deutsch in Conversation with Mitchell Kaplan on The Literary Life Podcast
On today’s episode of The Literary Life, Mitchell Kaplan is joined by Jeff Deutsch to discuss his new book, In Praise of Good Bookstores, out now from Princeton University Press, from a live event at Books & Books.
From the episode:
Jeff Deutsch: One of the things that’s really fun about being in book spaces is we get to watch you wander in the store. We see the flight path, and everyone has a different flight path. And I think for most of us, we have our own flight path as well that are different. And so one of the things that I do in the book is I do a taxonomy of the browser and there are different types, right? So there’s like the flaneur who just wanders the streets, right? They wander the stacks.
And I think about the town crier. We have town criers who are just like, “Hear ye, hear ye. I’ve got a great new book on the shelf. Young Mungo has come out, right?”
We have people like the devotee. They pray daily.
The penitence, who is looking to be redeemed.
Thinking about it, and part of it is obviously a little bit tongue-in-cheek, but think about our relationship to books and books spaces. It’s not just about reading either. It’s actually about being among books. There’s the chef who wanders in and is waiting for the book to ripen. They might feel it too and smell it. And the idea of what does it take to have the book finally become ready for the reader. It’s not always immediate.
Jeff Deutsch is the director of Chicago’s Seminary Co-op Bookstores, which in 2019 he helped incorporate as the first not-for-profit bookstore whose mission is bookselling. He lives in Chicago.