I’d been looking forward to visiting this venerable bookstore for years. While not as flashy as the Coop down the street, Harvard Book Store is what an independent bookstore is all about. The atmosphere is cozy and dripping with a love for literature. While the only thing I heard the staff (really, just cashiers) say at the Coop was “NEXT,” at Harvard Book Store everyone was chatting about books. I had a long conversation about Sarah Vowell’s visit. I had just missed it, but the staff was willing to fill me in on it and direct me to a podcast on the website. (The store hosts numerous author events, it’s one of the standard stops on an author tour.)
After reading about the Gutenborg machine several times, I was excited to see it in action. Harvard Book Store has one of the few in the nation, thus far, and it looks like a laptop with a very, very big printer attached. It’s a a little endearing in an R2D2 kind of way. The machine runs about 10 hours a day, sometimes printing from the Google backlist but frequently printing self-published books. Sometimes local histories, sometimes papers and topics from Harvard students and professors, but also books that have been picked up by publishers. I overheard a conversation from the staff that some of the self-published books are quite good, that the knee jerk reaction that all of them are not the same quality as traditionally published books will be changing. This especially could be true as established writers may be able to make more from self-publishing than from their big houses. It made me stop and think about taking a better look at self-published books.
Harvard Book Store offers all the latest new books worthy of your time, plus a nice array of used books. Any fiction you may want is available. As with many university book stores, there is a strong selection of non-fiction genres in both new and used books. Even better, the store supports the publications authored by the Harvard professors, and with that brain power, the reader is guaranteed to find interesting reads. Pick up some Harvard garb at the store and look the part while reading the latest school masterpiece.
While I didn’t notice a display of Author Recommendations in the store (it may be there), check out this link online, several authors name the books he or she recommends. I immediately looked to see what David Sedaris and David Mitchell liked, odds are good I’ll enjoy their favorites.
And if all that book shopping builds an appetite, head next door to Mr. Bartley’s for the best burgers in town.
1256 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02138