Buying books from St. Marks Bookshop

MetaMaus and The Works, two recent purchases from St. Marks Place Books

I recently dropped about $60 at the St. Marks Bookshop for two new books, “The Works: Anatomy of a City” by Kate Ascher and “MetaMaus” by Art Spiegelman.

Neither have Kindle versions, which is where I’ve been getting virtually all my books these days. But “The Works” and “MetaMaus” are both visual works; respectively: an illustrated explanation of the city’s underworkings and a comic-panel/mixed-media reflection of the classic Maus Holocaust graphic novel. I still buy paper books when it comes to art and photography and layout.

But I could still save a lot of money by ordering through Amazon…almost 40%. There’s no shipping costs and since I almost never get to reading books immediately after buying them, the waiting period would be tolerable. But I usually feel an obligation to compensate a brick-and-mortar store for introducing me to new books…kind of a finder’s fee, I guess. As much as I love the digital age and cheaper prices, real-life places like bookstores are one of the few opportunities I have to be exposed to things I wouldn’t normally see in my targeted searches (which these days, almost consist entirely for books about programming or medicine) or through my social network.

The St. Marks bookstore has currently been in the news for trying to crowdfund its move to a smaller location. I have no idea how bookstores can be saved these days given the much cheaper prices on Amazon — relying on spendy purchasers like me won’t pay Manhattan rents. But I do know bookstores still provide a lot of value with their physical footprints.

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