Friday, May 25, 2018

Browzer Bookshop

Bookstore: Browzer Bookshop

Location: Downtown Madison, Wisconsin

Why I Love Them: Browzer Bookshop didn't start out as a cavernous bookstore made labyrinthine by all the shelving above the UW Credit Union at the bottom of State Street. Originally it was at the exact opposite end of this iconic street, right at the top overlooking the state capital. Of course this location, romantic in outward appearance by it's turn of the century Midwestern town square vibe, had the misfortune of being badly lit and a bitch to park near. Therefore when they decided to move from top to bottom and go from Shakespeare's Books to Browzer Bookshop, I didn't lament the decision. Though I did become fascinated for awhile with the store that moved into their old location. They were never open and had arresting displays of taxidermy lions and British Empire ephemera where once books had filled the storefront. Then one day they were gone. But Browzer Bookshop remains. The new location showed just how much they were jamming into all the nooks and crannies of their old location. Mercifully brightly illuminated the bookstore goes back for days. Through the center of the store there are large glass display cases showing some of the most wonderful editions of books sadly at a reasonable, though out of my reach, price range. While the inventory doesn't turn over that frequently if you are a fan of the big doorstop books and Masterpiece Theater tie-in editions that your grandmother read in the 70s and 80s, then this is the store for you.

Best Buy: Before I state my best buy, here's a little fact about me that you should probably already know, and that is that I love the author Lauren Willig. I love her books, and I love her book recommendations; so therefore, whenever she says "read this book" I do it. I believe it was around when she started to work on her first standalone novel, The Ashford Affair, that she was talking about M.M. Kaye's work that isn't The Far Pavilions, such as her "Death In" series, but most importantly her book Trade Wind. A book set in 19th century Zanzibar was instantly what I wanted to read next. Of course it just so happened that at the time I desperately wanted to read this book it was out of print. But then I searched my memory for what used bookstore might just have this book I was looking for and I instantly thought of Browzer Bookshop! It wasn't just that this book fit perfectly into the genre of most of their fiction stock, it's that I actually remembered seeing The Far Pavilions there in hardcover, and while I had my own paperback edition of that book I had my fingers crossed that they would have other M.M. Kaye books... and indeed they did! I went to the far wall and then skirted the little jag until I hit the straight shot of fiction that's on the wall opposite the door all the way to the back of the store. When I hit "K" not only did they have Trade Wind but they also had one of the "Death In" books, Death in Zanzibar... it was turning into quite the day for M.M. Kaye books set in East Africa! I continued browsing for awhile and eventually made my way to the register and these two books made their way into my library.


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