Snubbed at the Indie Bookstore
April 22, 2011
My preteen son and I ventured into New York during spring break to ride the Staten Island Ferry and visit a couple of favorite bookstores. He loves Kinokuniya, the big, ultra-busy Japanese store across Sixth Avenue from Bryant Park. He chose a cool pen and some art supplies from the many cool pens and art supplies on the lowest level, and later used the pen to impress a seven-year-old girl on the train ride home. "You write cursive!" she exclaimed.
I wanted to visit a small shop I knew of only through social media; the store and I may even have exchanged tweets. Along with many others, I have promoted buying books at independent bookstores, and I'd been curious about this one since it opened. It's a well-lit, appealing spot with what looks like carefully selected inventory.
We were the only customers at the time of our visit. A bookseller behind the counter glanced up from the computer as we entered and we exchanged hellos.
"I follow y'all on Twitter," I said excitedly.
"Oh," said the bookseller.
After a few seconds, I understood that our conversation was over.
Feeling vaguely embarrassed, I began to look around.
Someone else was working on a computer in the back of the place. I wondered if the two store folks, separated by 300 feet or so, were emailing each other instead of talking back and forth. Maybe I should have logged into Twitter on my phone to speak to them.
ST: U are friendly on Twitter! Why not here?
Employee#1: I'm not the Twitter person.
Employee#2: Comeoutoftherain,makeyourselfathome,iloveyou. Please retweet.
I bought several books, but left feeling disappointed—and duped. Social media got me there, but I'm not rushing back any time soon.