Yesterday, my pal Jess Hemerly happened upon Idlewild Books, a new travel bookstore in Manhattan with a terrific organizational scheme. It shelves guidebooks with travel literature related to that place. "So the Ireland section has a bunch of Ireland-related travel guides plus Ulysses and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man," Jess says. I found a Publishers Weekly article about the opening of IdleWild six weeks ago:
"I was in a chain bookstore and realized I would have to go to five different sections to get what I needed–a travel guide, a map, a language book, a novel," (owner David Del Vecchio) noted. "At Idlewild, everything will be shelved by country, and in the case of the United States, by state–that way people will be able to browse according to the place of their interest."
Del Vecchio emphasized that he believes literature about a country–be it a novel or a political biography–can be just as useful as a guidebook. His product mix will be at least 40% armchair travel titles: "Guidebooks you really can buy almost anywhere," he explained, "but books on politics and culture are often much harder to find. Our section on Turkey might have guides, maps, a history of the Blue Mosque, a biography of Ataturk, and novels by Pamuk and others." Graham Greene's novels won't be shelved in the U.K. section, said Del Vecchio, but in Cuba and Mexico, where the books are set.