Read Globally, Buy Locally
September 4, 2008 7:51 AM   Subscribe

Tired of dealing with Amazon and the chains? New in town and wondering where all the best bookstores are? Traveling and looking for a bookstore on your visit? Try the new Publishers Marketplace Bookstore Maps mashup. There you can find all stores in an area, or just the kind you're looking for—e.g. just B&Ns in Pittsburgh or just indies and specialty stores in San Francisco. Notice a store is missing? Tell them so they can add their store to the map. Future plans include adding granularity to the specialty store category so that you can sort by type, such as Mystery, Science Fiction, Used, or Gay & Lesbian.
posted by Toekneesan (24 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Like so many neat little gadgets, this is US only. Lovely.
posted by splice at 8:18 AM on September 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

As an experiment, I tried just looking for bookstores with google maps directly. Found way fewer. Way WAY fewer. Why is that?
posted by DU at 8:29 AM on September 4, 2008

Whats up with google zoomable maps that don't redraw the location points when you zoom out?
posted by acro at 8:41 AM on September 4, 2008

As I suspected: I live in suburban chainstore hell.
posted by The Gooch at 8:42 AM on September 4, 2008

I wonder where the data comes from. Lots of book stores missing in NYC.

Also would be helpful if stores could fall in more than one category and if they included a category for used books.
posted by Jahaza at 8:49 AM on September 4, 2008

Tired of dealing with Amazon..

Tired, yes. The 1-click ordering and free 2-day Premium shipping is wearing me out, I can't keep up with my pile of books that I have to drag myself in my pajamas every day to the door step to retrieve.
posted by stbalbach at 8:56 AM on September 4, 2008 [3 favorites]

This is a godsend!
posted by parmanparman at 8:58 AM on September 4, 2008

BTW this has already been done (better IMO) at LibraryThing Local. It is more complete and because it relies on 10s of thousands of obsessive LT users, it tends to be pretty accurate and up to date (and I assume it is not US-only). Also includes events like author talks and used book sales.
posted by stbalbach at 9:01 AM on September 4, 2008

I agree that there is waaaay more data at LibraryThing Local, but I think you have to sign in to access some of it. I would filter only by used bookstores, for example.
posted by mattbucher at 9:10 AM on September 4, 2008

Ooh, I like LibraryThing Local. They seem a bit uneven with event coverage, but I've wanted a consolidated book event listing for years.
posted by Pronoiac at 9:38 AM on September 4, 2008

The data comes from the American Bookseller Association membership and the chains themselves. LibraryThing Local is pretty cool, but I think the amount of data varies depending on location. Where I live it only lists one actual bookstore and there are four. It does, however, offer libraries and festivals which PMBM doesn't. The other difference is PMBM requires vetting by human editors before new places are added. This keeps new age stores carrying ten titles and christian science reading rooms out of the mix. I suppose it's an authority issue. Like the difference between Knol and Wikipedia. PMBM also allows the stores themselves an interface allowing them to publicize author events and reading groups. Since this is its first day up, there's not much of that yet.
posted by Toekneesan at 9:57 AM on September 4, 2008

Tired of dealing with Amazon and the chains?

Actually, no. I love dealing with Amazon. I'd like to be all indie and hip and shun them; heck, I used to hang out at Powell's once a week. But honestly Amazon is fantastic. Great service, simple shipping, infinitely deep catalog, good prices. I hate to say it, but I really don't want to visit a local bookstore anymore.
posted by Nelson at 10:07 AM on September 4, 2008

Amazon is wonderful, and I can't work up the caring to try to keep a dead business model viable.
posted by sonic meat machine at 10:39 AM on September 4, 2008

a consolidated book event listing

There is also where you can sign up for email alerts about book events in your area.
posted by mattbucher at 11:05 AM on September 4, 2008

Former bookstore worker here. I still find myself reshelving incorrectly shelved books when I go to a bookstore.

For those of you who do your book shopping online-only (whether it's Amazon or Powell's or whoever) - how do you do that? I mean, I get that when you go "oooh, I want the new [title]!", it's easy enough to go to an online place and get it that way.

But what if you don't know exactly what you want? "I need a new book on [whatever]." My method is to head for the nearest brick-and-mortar (in my case, since A Clean well-Lighted Place for Books closed :::sob:::, I now go to Kepler's, which is near my work) and either browse around until I find what I want (and usually, much more than I was planning on), or talk to one of the salesfolk.

How does that process work when shopping online? Or is the process just completely different?
posted by rtha at 11:08 AM on September 4, 2008

I've never had good success "browsing" online bookstores, rtha, though I've done it a number of times I'm usually disappointed in the book. My meatspace book-evaluation skills are much more finely honed, I guess. Amazon/Powell's is great if I know what I want and I'm not in a hurry, though.
posted by hattifattener at 11:50 AM on September 4, 2008

rtha, I do it too, and I only put in a year or two at a B. Dalton's in the mid-80s.

I am troubled by the gap between Amazon's ease of purchasing but the difficulty in browsing. Those reviews on Amazon pages are often useless, but there's not much else. Some times I crawl through LibraryThing to get ideas and then check them out on Amazon, but it's difficult to triangulate on more obscure topics.
posted by wenestvedt at 11:57 AM on September 4, 2008

BookTour incorrectly guessed where I am, & doesn't seem to want me to browse San Francisco without setting up an account. That's frustrating.

rtha: I miss CWLPFB too.
posted by Pronoiac at 12:21 PM on September 4, 2008

Sigh - no Canada, eh? Well - then again, when it comes to book prices we definately are not a merged-market with the US. Even though the dollar has been hovering at/near/above par for almost a year, we still pay 20-40% more for books. Sucks.
posted by jkaczor at 12:22 PM on September 4, 2008

How do I buy books at Amazon if I don't know exactly what I want? By searching on topic names. And then relying on customer reviews, or lists, or the Amazon recommendations. They work quite well for finding the most popular topic on a book.

What I miss about a big ol' bookstore is the semi-random happy accidents. Ie: cruising the sci-fi section for a specific Samuel Delany title and then seeing a placard for China Melville saying it was recommended. Actually some of that happens on Amazon as well, but it's not very good. OTOH I used to buy a lot of books at Powell's that I never read; now that I buy online at Amazon it's more focussed.
posted by Nelson at 2:07 PM on September 4, 2008

I often look up web pages about the topic in question and head for the bibliography section. I almost never buy books on a whim at a brick and mortar bookstore, either.
posted by sonic meat machine at 2:17 PM on September 4, 2008

rtha: I actually will randomly browse at bookstores and keep track of books that are worth buying. Lately, however, I've been falling in the trap of buying the book at the store I found it at (shocking. The business plan works!), and then kicking myself when I find it like-new on Amazon for a fraction of the cost.
posted by niles at 4:03 PM on September 4, 2008

(hit post too soon)
But I don't think I could ever bring myself to just buy a book I "found" on Amazon. Any book that I've purchased sight unseen has either been for school or recommended by a friend or on a website that has a reasonable IQ.

For that matter, I only buy recommendations from friends with reasonable IQs too
posted by niles at 4:06 PM on September 4, 2008

Also: Delocator (not related, just a fan).
posted by whycurious at 9:33 PM on September 4, 2008

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