I'm going to get all sentimental on you now, and talk about used bookstores, those musty-smelling, multi-roomed places with cracked easy chairs and resident cats (or elderly dog) and books you've never heard of, books that have been standing at attention for years, just waiting for you to come along and pull them off the shelf.
And more downstairs, or upstairs, or in the annex, and the door jamb is crooked, so watch your step.
Usually there was a sharp-eyed, ponytailed dude up at the cash register, or an old guy who glanced up and looked away, uninterested, or a young woman, reading, and all of them were willing to talk and knew where everything was, every book, but they also stayed quiet because they knew that the joy, the bliss, the satisfaction, the magic, of such a place was in stumbling across books you didn't even know you were looking for.
The place I used to go to in Duluth when I was in high school is no longer there. Fletcher's, I think it was called, right next door to the public library, where I worked shelving books. It wasn't big, but it was crammed, and it smelled musty in that delicious old-brittle-pages-and-soft-leather way. The picture window hadn't been washed in years, and its grime lent a soft, dim light to the interior. Housewives used to come in hauling grocery sacks of Harlequin Romances; they'd trade the sack in for a new supply, and I wondered how Mrs. Fletcher (if that was her name) made any money at all.
I learned very quickly where the Modern Library books where shelved, and those little pocket-sized leatherbound classics from the 19th century, and for two years I worked next door and then came over to Fletchers and spent most of my paycheck, until the place, one day, mysteriously, burned down.
I hadn't thought about that bookstore in years, until yesterday, when someone forwarded me this link from flavorwire, on 10 unconventional bookstores. The video of Brazenhead Books in New York brought everything back in a rush of memory and smell--the way the camera pans over the old titles, lovingly, made me yearn.