bookstores

Unless you’ve been there, you might not know that Alcatraz, aka The Rock, has its very own bookstore, run by the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. Inside you can find a selection of Alcatraz histories and memoirs. When I visited earlier this week, not only did I get the chance to pick up a copy of Alcatraz #1259, a first-hand account of life on the inside, by William G. Baker, I also got to meet Baker, one of the last living former inmates of the notorious prison. He signed my book, too!

After Seattle, road-tripping bibliophiles will undoubtedly make their way to Portland, Oregon, to visit Powell’s, one of the ten best indie shops in the world, according to readers polled by the Guardian. I agree — it’s sprawling but well signposted, and fun surprises await around every corner. I could have spent all day there, but, on this occasion, two hours had to suffice.

For thirty-five years, New York's Westsider Rare & Used Books has held court at 2246 Broadway (between 80th and 81st Streets), but increased pressure from larger stores--there's a Barnes & Noble on W. 82nd and the recently resurrected Shakespeare & Co. is at W. 69th and 70th--e-retail, and rising operating costs led owners Dorian Thornley and Bryan Gonzalez to announce that they will be closing their doors in February. (Westsider Records, also owned by Thornley and Gonzalez, will remain open.)