Better Know a Bookseller is a new feature on this blog where we’ll introduce one of our wonderful stockists. Previously we have covered Harvard Book Store, Papercuts J.P., and Skylight Books. Publishing this series is only half the battle, and the booksellers in these stores all over the world really help keep us alive. If you are a bookseller or know of a store near you that stocks 33 1/3 please get in touch!
6275 Delmar In the Loop, St. Louis MO 6313
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Answers by Alex Weir, longtime manager of Subterranean Books and former record store employee
1. Where is your store located?
St. Louis, Missouri
2. Describe who is in your store at 5pm on a Tuesday. What are they buying?
We get touring musicians stopping in semi-regularly. Steve Earle was my favorite, but I don’t know what he bought – I had to leave on my dinner break!
3. Describe your most memorable customer interaction.
A disabled man who was a stranger at the time but whom I’ve since befriended. (Hi David.) He was near our front door one day, browsing. He overheard a young boy asking his grandparents for a book, and he gave the kid the money to buy it. The grandparents were clearly very touched by his gesture; I’ve never forgotten that moment when they thanked him.
4. What was your favorite book/record store to visit growing up?
Both were at the old Northwest Plaza in north St. Louis County: Viscount Records and B. Dalton Books.
5. What book or record sells very well but also makes you cringe?
Any doodles-with-dumb-captions book by Demetri Martin or B.J. Novak. Not funny.
6. What book or record doesn’t sell well but deserves much more attention?
Buckdancer’s Choice by James Dickey
7.If an anonymous donor gave you 1 million dollars to use expressly to invest in your store, what would you do with it?
Buy a bigger space with some nice fixtures and furniture. And a water cooler.
8. What is your favorite time of day in your store?
In the morning while a lingering coffee buzz elevates my mood.
9. What is your favorite 33 1/3 and why?
Erik Davis’s book on Led Zeppelin IV was exceptionally good. It both analyzed the record and illuminated its socio-historical context with fresh, startling light. Many passages are stunning – just like the album it parses.
10. Would you rather live in a world with no books or a world with no music?
Impossible to answer. Neither would be tolerable.
11. What does the future look like for your store?
Pretty good. We’ve come through grim times yet here we are. We owe our loyal regulars, especially, an enormous debt. They are the community that sustains us and inspires us. We love them even if we’re not always good at telling them so flat-out. So here we go finally: we love you.
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