Don DeLillo on Bookstores

American novelist describes the unique atmosphere of the contemporary bookstore

In the first chapter of Don DeLillo's Mao II, a protagonist wanders the commercial ground plan of a contemporary American bookstore:
He walked among the bookstore shelves, hearing Muzak in the air. There were rows of handsome covers, prosperous and assured. He felt an excitement, hefting a new book, fitting hand over sleek spine, seeing lines of type jitter past his thumb as he let the pages fall. He was a young man, shrewd in his fervors, who knew there were books he wanted to read and others he absolutely had to own, the ones that gesture in special ways, that have a rareness or daring, a charge of heat that stains the air around them. He made a point of checking authors' photos, browsing at the south wall. He examined books stacked on tables and set in clusters near the cash terminals. He saw stacks on the floor five feet high, arranged in artful fanning patterns. There were books standing on pedestals and bunched in little gothic snuggeries. Bookstores made him slightly sick at times. He looked at the gleaming best-sellers. People drifted through the store, appearing caught in some unhappy dazzlement. There were books on step terraces and Lucite wall-shelves, books in pyramids and theme displays. He went downstairs to the paperbacks, where he stared at the covers of mass-market books, running his fingertips erotically over the raised lettering. Covers were lacquered and gilded. Books lay cradled in nine-unit counterpacks like experimental babies. He could hear them shrieking Buy me. There were posters for book weeks and book fairs. People made their way around shopping cartons, stepping over books scattered on the floor. He went to the section on modern classics and found Bill Gray's to lean novels in their latest trade editions, a matched pair banded in austere numbers and rusts. He liked to check the shelves for Bill.

Don DeLillo, Mao II
Also at A Piece of Monologue: