In addition to my quest for the ultimate bookstore in San Francisco, or, if I’m brave, the Bay Area, I have found modes of comparison in other markets. I have spoken before about Elliot Bay Book Company at an old counting house in Seattle, but there was one in San Diego as well, called Upstart Crow & Co. I have found bookstores across the miles that draw me, despite or because of all surroundings. Which explains the demise of the tourism of Portzline.
When I proposed the idea of knowing a city by its independent bookstores to my therapist, she suggested that I research the idea to make sure that it hadn’t been done before. I finally got the opportunity to do that research last weekend, and it led me to a book on Amazon.com called “Bookstore Tourism,” by Larry Portzline, a man who had provided tourists in Greenwich Village and Washington, D.C. with tours of the indies of those areas, and he was so fired up that he wanted to start a movement of indie bookstore tourism across the United States. When I went to his website, however, I found that he had bitten off more than he could chew, and was giving up…
Was it because he wanted the world to sing in perfect harmony, instead of just one city? But the draw is so enticing…when I think of Seattle or San Diego and my tome adventures stand out squarely in front of those cities in my mind like a Hollywood sign. And then I want to tour the West Coast.
So we start with a City.
And then, maybe move to another one, and not set it up as a guide, but as a memoir. For more people seem to want to visit where memoirs have been, than guidebooks. Ask Hemingway in his clean and well-lighted place.