Janice Williams Loves Austin And sometimes I write about it.

December 30, 2009


Filed under: Austin,Reading,Writing — Janice @ 1:02 pm

I just finished my last interview of 2009. Sigh of relief. I miss radio interviews. Radio interviews were done and over quickly. At the end I might say, “Shoot, I meant to ask you about _____.” But they were done. And over. Interviewing for an article means taking good notes (trying) and thinking about the next question and trying to get enough wordage out of the interviewee to put something together on paper. I’m not a fan.

And if interviewing is hard, the writing is harder. I’m not saying I don’t like it, it is just hard. So I’ll be wrasslin’ with this one for a few weeks. I haven’t been told a deadline or a wordcount on this one. Usually I know those things in advance. Ideally, I’ll write this TONIGHT and edit it tomorrow and I won’t have to think about it again until it shows up in the issue. Ha. I haven’t written before the deadline is looming ever. And since I don’t even had a deadline, this may be on my mind for a while.

I read today that the last B. Dalton bookstores are closing. They, according to what I read, were the first chain bookstores and were bought by Barnes & Noble and are now being shut down. I think I used to buy a lot of Christmas gifts in B.Dalton’s. Calendars come to mind. But it has been a long time since I’ve been in one.

My first bookstore memory was Brown’s Books in Amarillo, right by the Amarillo College campus. It was there for years. I’m sure they probably specialized in textbooks, but I remember going in there with Mom one time when there was some book that she had had them order for her. It was a neat, small store and was very intriguing. By the time I grew up and lived in Amarillo it was either closed up or I didn’t even think about going to a real bookstore.

I probably bought most of books in those days at Hastings Books and Records. They still exist today, but they are just Hastings. They were really the cool hip place in Amarillo with a location by the theater in the mall, which was handy to browse while you waited for the movie, and a bigger store down on 45th. I bought lots of books at those two stores and bought even more records and 8-tracks.

Bookstores are dangerous for me now because I will find too many things that I would really like to have. I went to Border’s before Christmas and got a few “small gifts” that added up quickly (especially since they were gifts for ME!). BookPeople in downtown Austin is a favorite and I try to buy books there if there is something specific I want. I went there to buy the romance novel a high school classmate wrote a few months back. I loved BookWoman and started going there before we even moved to Austin, but haven’t been there since they moved locations. I’m glad they are still in business. I like all their books about female empowerment.  Bookstore-wise, I probably go to Half Price Books more than any other bookstore now. Great prices, lots of surprises, and usually a used, cheaper copy of something I want if I know what I’m going in for. They have a great section of Texas authors and Texas subjects there.

The bookstore that brings back the best memories was a fabulous place in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I was on business and found it in their old downtown area (I think). Maybe it was near the college. It was long and dark and had the wooden ladders on rollers that seem to only exist in movies now. I was just having a great time looking around and I found a paperback copy of Alamo House by Sarah Bird. I hadn’t read any of her books at the time, but my friend Beth had recommended The Boyfriend School. Alamo House was her first novel and they had it so I snapped it up and finished it before I was back in Dallas, I expect, and it is still one of my all-time favorite books and it opened to the door to every book Sarah Bird has written since then.

I don’t mind living out here in the suburbs with the only businesses within walking distance being an auto repair shop and a gas station and a Carl’s Jr. But, if I could make a wish for a new retailer near me, I would be very happy with a combo coffee shop/Mexican cafe/bookstore. Sigh. Bookstores don’t have the same sense of wonder as they once did. And I hesitate to rush out and just spontaneously buy a book anymore unless I’ve checked to see how much it costs used online.

I would make a New Year’s Resolution to visit bookstores more often, but that won’t fit well with my fiscally responsible New Year’s Resolutions. Yes, I know I don’t have to buy anything, but I would. I know I would.


  1. Fabulous post. I graduated from the University of Michigan. I wonder if the place in Ann Arbor is the one I’m thinking of…I can’t remember it’s name.

    Comment by Kyle — December 30, 2009 @ 1:55 pm

  2. And if I could have two wishes, I would wish for a retailer near me that is a combo bookstore/coffee shop/Mexican cafe…and 30 million dollars deposited into an offshore account….. 😉 (couldn’t resist)

    Comment by Mackie — December 31, 2009 @ 12:17 am

  3. I’ve got all Sarah’s early books in signed firsts, a legacy of working at Congress Avenue. You may not know it, but the ending of Alamo House‘s mass-market edition is radically different from the hardback. The MM is rather downbeat but reads much more like it was her original ending, whereas the hardback has a tacked-on deus ex machina conclusion that I think Norton must have foisted on her.

    Comment by Sam — January 24, 2010 @ 9:31 pm

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