BookFinder.com is written in the Perl programming language. Charlie and I attended our first Perl conference this week, YAPC::NA 2008 in Chicago. I enjoyed the conference, and we came back with lots of ideas on software development tools and practices, but one of my favorite parts of my short trip to Chicago was sneaking out of the conference early to go visit local bookstores.
I particularly enjoyed stopping in at Women & Children First, one of the best known indie bookstores in town. Women & Children First sells new books, and is located in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood. I’d heard of their reputation for good picks and readings (e.g. they’ve recently hosted events with Jhumpa Lahiri and Barbara Kingsolver). As I expected, their tiny space featured strong collections of Chicago-themed, feminist, and LGBT titles. (I bumped into an old Bay Area acquaintance, now working as a community organizer in Chicago, browsing in the nonfiction section in the back.)
I was taken aback by how kid-focused the store was. While I was there, they were doing a wonderful reading hour for young kids, the best I’ve seen outside of a library; the booksellers had really built a connection with the gaggle of six and seven year olds, reading stories, having them play-act roles, and generally acting more like family than salespeople trying to move product.
The mix clearly works, and boy, do they have fans. While trying to find my way to the store, I asked a few pedestrians for help with directions; every single person I talked to positively beamed while giving me directions. It may be hard out there for local new booksellers, but being able to elicit bright smiles at the very mention of your name is a pretty good indicator that you’re doing something right.
Posted by Anirvan