The Used Bookstore & Comic Shop Circuit

By | Monday, August 05, 2013 Leave a Comment
Tonight, I hit one of the Powell's Bookstores in Chicago for the first time. It's the fourth used bookstore inside of a mile from where I'm living right now. Powell's is by far the largest and most well-organized of the four, but I've still walked out of each one with at least three comics or graphic novels under my arm.

What struck me as interesting, though, is the different types of comics each had. Powell's had a great selection of Fantagraphics books from the past decade, plus a variety of other indie and more art-related books. The bookstore before that had a heavier bias towards comic theory, and the books I got there included The Journal of Popular Culture and a biograhy of Mort Meskin. The shop before that had a more international flavor with several British books, including the 1953 Lone Ranger Annual! And before that was just a hodge podge of exceptionally cheap books, mostly from the late 1970s through the early 1990s.

But they all had graphic novel sections of some sort, and all with a decent enough selection for me to find several books that struck me as interesting. (At least, interesting enough for the price they were asking!) And they all exist within a two mile radius, which also included multiple comic shops. Now, granted, Chicago is a dense enough city that it can (apparently) support the relative proximity of all those shops; there's a large enough audience for each one to specialize in certain types of comics (either deliberately or incidentally) and still maintain whole sections devoted to the medium.

And even though I just moved from an area that had used bookstores and comic shops, but just not that many of them, it's still difficult for me to process that there are still areas in the U.S. that have nothing of the sort for an hour or more in any direction. (Tom Spurgeon has noted this of his own home on more than one occasion.) I once started a map to try to pinpoint just what areas have that problem, but I gave up on it because A) the list I was working from was really sketchy and probably dated in the first place, B) I couldn't figure out a non-manual way of entering a couple thousands shops, and C) I could only pinpoint the actual shops themselves and not a radius of a potential customer base. What I'd like to see is a color-coded map that shows the density of comic shops and/or the density of comic shops relative to the population density.

I'm pretty sure I could figure something like that out if I really put my mind to it, but that's not my forte and I'm sure I don't have the best tools at my disposal for sorting through all that data. But somebody who does, I'd appreciate it if you got on that. Thanks!
Newer Post Older Post Home