BEST BOOKSTORE (INDIE)
Magers and Quinn
"Independently owned" is retail's rockiest road, particularly in the book racket. Squeezed by online giants, hounded by avaricious landlords, perused and abused by a fickle clientele often more interested in looking than buying—is it any wonder that so many booksellers have abandoned storefronts in favor of web-based operations—or, worse still, given up the ghost? Like fellow survivors Powell's (Portland) and Strand (NYC), Magers and Quinn has chosen to mutate with the times, building a formidable internet presence while gussying up its more earthen profile with an endless succession of readings and events. In just the past month or so, the store has sponsored readings by more than a dozen poets, as well as environmental historian Ted Steinberg, novelist Lindsay G. Arthur Jr., and Episcopal priest Rosalie "Rody" Heffelfinger, whose recently published A River Echoes in My Ministry chronicles her solo voyage down the Mississippi from Minneapolis to New Orleans. The sprawling operation's selection of 500,000-plus used and current titles is nothing to sneeze at, either. Most alluring of all are the collectibles behind the counter, and prices generally are fair. Besides, Magers and Quinn not only buys used titles, it offers around double cash value in trade, potentially taking a significant bite out of, say, the $150 required to cop a slipcased, near fine second printing of Han Wingler's magisterial The Bauhaus. Not only is the staff friendly, knowledgeable, and accommodating, most of the people who work at the store spend way more on books than you do.