My Weakness When Traveling? Airport Bookstores

I might not be able to afford a first class seat, but thanks to airport bookstores I can usually find a first-class read.

When it comes to traveling, I have a weakness.

No, it’s not fancy hotels or first class seats. (Though that’d be nice.) It’s not sneaking bottles of whisky on to airplanes, or stealing those tiny bottles of shampoo from the maids’ carts in hotels. My weakness is far more costly:

Airport bookstores.

RIFers, I can’t help it. If I’m in an airport and have time to kill, I have to check out the bookstore. Hudson News, Jetway Booksellers, you name the airport purveyor of books, and I’ve been there.

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When visiting my local indie bookstores hours fly by when I peruse. So imagine how easy it is for me to wait for my flight to board when there’s nothing to do but waste time in said store? I’ve learned to set alarms twenty minutes before my flight is set to board just so I don’t forget when checking out the latest “new release” stacked proudly next to the keychains.

Airport bookstores bestow me with a freedom I lack when visiting my local shops. At airport bookstores, my options are far more limited than, say, Los Angeles indie bookstore Skylight Books.

At Skylight, there are so many fantastic (and often disregarded) literature options. There, I feel an obligation to pass up more popular fair for the lesser known works. Don’t get me wrong – I stand by my choices.

Thanks to Skylight, I stumbled upon my favorite book of 2012, What Happened to Sophie Wilder, which was published by the smaller printing press Tin House Books. Skylight introduced me to the incredibly bizarre works of Steve Erickson (Zeroville is a must for all film buffs-turned-historians).

But this leads me away from other good, yet popular, fare such as The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo or the works of Stephen King or Ann Patchett.

My bookselling friends at LAX, Dulles, O’Hare, and all those other airports I frequent unfortunately don’t have the luxury to cater to the more “indie” fare.

Due to the high-volume and varying tastes of their clientele, airport bookstores tend to offer more “national bestsellers” and “book club” reads. This is great for me.

At an airport bookstore, I can pick up the latest Game of Thrones or Anne Perry mystery and not worry that I’m ignoring some unknown writer who needs my support. I can catch up on the more “popular” fare, which more often than not makes for an engaging plane ride.

I might not be able to afford a first class seat, but thanks to airport bookstores I can usually find a first-class read.

Photo Credit: kaczor58/

About Kira Walton

KIRA WALTON has been stalking books all her life as a college English teacher, bookseller, book club consultant, author, and editor.

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