This is not a bookstore.

This is not what bookstores are supposed to be like. This is wrong. 

The bookstores on Guam are limited to one chain, aptly titled “Bestseller Books.” What it does well:

  • It carries all the newest bestsellers (albeit about three months after they’re released in the States)
  • It boasts a ridiculously wide variety of magazines
  • It has a relatively impressive collection of the latest young adult dystopian novels, vampire books, and Hunger Games lookalikes

What it does poorly:

  • Encourages people to, ahem, actually read

When you walk through the door, one of the first things you’ll notice are the paper signs Scotch-taped to the end of almost every shelf: “No Free Reading.” And, in case those signs didn’t dissuade you from hiding behind a shelf to skim through a book: “No sitting on floor.”

Not that there are chairs. Or empty spaces to lean. Or any other semblance of a way to get comfortable while you’re browsing a Bestseller Books. Because there’s not. It’s like the McDonald’s of bookstores: You go in, buy whatever the latest release is that you’re planning to read because everybody else is reading it, and you get out as fast as they can politely shove you out the door. Preferably without having even peeked into the spine of a book to see if it looks interesting.

When you check out, you’ll be warned that the store doesn’t accept returns, and exchanges must be processed within three days of the book’s purchase. If you ask about a damaged book, they’ll tell you they can’t offer a discount, even though the publisher couldn’t manage to cut the pages straight, or the customer who (illegally) flipped through the book before you broke the spine in half. And if you (heaven forbid) sit on the floor, you’ll be kindly asked to clear the way for other customers.

The classic literature section consists of one narrow set of shelves with mass market paperback versions of, I’m guessing, this year’s required high school reading. There are more magazines than non-fiction books of any kind. You’ll find greeting cards and the latest issues of Cosmopolitan or Sports Illustrated (or even Architectural Digest!), but you’d be hard pressed to find, say, Dickens. You’ll find The Dummies’ Guide to Korean, but no unabridged dictionaries.

I’m not saying every bookstore has to be like Barnes & Noble. But every bookstore worth the shingle it hangs out front should encourage actual reading. Occasionally. Maybe. Just a thought.

I think for the remainder of my time on Guam, I’m going to stick to Oyster and whatever I can find online. This is one case in which Amazon might be a better choice than buying locally, because I’m not sure I want to support whoever thought Bestseller Books was a good idea.

Sigh.

6 comments

  1. Bestseller is pretty sad. There used to be a bookstore here called Hafa Books. They only sold used books and some other neat used things. I’ve found some amazing art books and classic literature there. I was so sad when it closed. The library has a yearly book sale though. You have to do some major digging, but it’s worth it.

  2. I just moved here last week, and I was also disappointed with Bestseller Books. I think you described it really well. They had plenty of magazines and young adult books, but not much as far as classics or literature. It sounds like Hafa Books was a great place, though… Bummer.

    1. I know! I keep hearing about these amazing things Guam used to have before I got here. Like Hafa Books. And Dairy Queen. Sad day. I hope you enjoy Guam anyway–it’s a fantastic place to live. :)

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