After the American Century
On a short trip to Edinburgh last week I happened on a lovely small bookstore in the old part of the city. Located below and behind the Elephant Cafe, where many Harry Potter fans go to see the pleasant rooms where that series was begun, Analogue Books offered me the rare, almost unheard of pleasure of a carefully selected collection that had no best-sellers or media-driven titles at all. Indeed, I had never seen or even heard of a single book in the shop. It is a fantastic and engaging place. It may be small, but it still seems large when every book is an unknown.
I bought a fine non-fiction book that explores the history and aesthetics of type fonts. Written by Simon Garfield, Just My Type discusses the font preferences of famous people, including President Obama and Amy Winehouse, but it is far more than that. I am sure anyone who lays out a webpage or a term paper or a company brochure would learn useful things from it. There were many other interesting books, in a wide range of genres, all from small publishers as far as I could see.
I only wish I had found this bookstore sooner. I only spotted it an hour before leaving town, and by that time my suitcase was stuffed with other things. But on another visit, I am certain to go by 39 Candlemaker Row, and see what else I don't know.