The first thing you notice are the people — dozens lining every side of the display tables. Each draped in a different international dialect and flavor of winter bundling.
But that’s not unusual in New York — it’s that this scene is taking place in a *book store*. Yes, those old artifacts of the printing press era live on (some with significantly more style than others).
As if to answer my curious gaze I notice a sign advertising Books Priced Lower than Kindle, a table of “Books You Pretended to Read in College” (and will pretend to do so again). All within the first 45 seconds of walking through the double set of doors to enter The Strand in Union Square, NYC.
Maybe it’s the buzzing of vintage commerce, the textural feel of hardcover books or the allure of the third floor rare book collection — it’s working. I’m settling in to find my next great adventure.
If your imagination wasn’t captured by one of the showcased collections there’s an unruly flock of store employees pre-meditatively bored by your frequently asked question.
But first you have to correctly identify the bearded gentleman seated on the floor, listening to music and eating a bag of chips as hired help. Before I cast too much judgment we must consider the equally socially awkward clientele. These book nerds often have excessive, disposable time and vocabularies, as demonstrated by this question I overheard, “where may I find that Jack of beatnik bohemia — the one to capture a time and a place like none other. Reminds me of my Uncle Seymour in his early Brooklyn days…” [clerk interjects] “On the Road? Jack Kerouac? It’s under your left hand.”