Even though this is the third used bookstore I’ve visited in New Orleans, I just got back from a trip there today so thought I’d write about my experience while it’s fresh in my mind.
From the get-go, I appreciated the accessibility of this bookstore. Free street parking, no French Quarter craziness to worry about (though the French Quarter does have its perks). The shop’s located on Tchoupitoulas, and it comprises two large rooms packed with books.
The shop is well-organized and roomy. There are chairs and small tables scattered about the place; it sort of feels like you’re in someone’s large, quirky personal library. A very large collection of literature; I found a quantity and variety of older books sitting in the regular fiction section that I hadn’t seen elsewhere (early le Carre, Doris Lessing, and Dos Passos). Lots of hardcover fiction, and most were priced from $7 to $9.
The shop also has substantial sections devoted to the usual suspects — science, mathematics, philosophy, history, etc. Usually I skip right on past some of these areas (read: mathematics), but whether it was the layout of the store or the selection, I found myself browing every single shelf. Lots of books caught my eye. It seems like McKeown’s has a better-edited selection of books than some other shops.
All in all, McKeown’s was fun. I appreciated the roominess, and I wasn’t tripping over other customers, either — only one other person was browsing the shelves while I was there.
I’m not thrilled about the books I got, but I had a tough time deciding. I ended up purchasing first editions of Philosophy: Who Needs It, by Ayn Rand; Paris in the Terror, by Stanley Loomis; and The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold.
I also bought what I thought was a first edition of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt, but alas, I fooled myself. Even though there was a “1” in the number line, the true first edition has a number line that begins with a “2” and states “First Edition,” which mine did not. Shame, because first editions of that book are quite a find, apparently. Oh well!