Books: Rattling

The Chains Mom-and-pop shops lure the ambiance chasers

The customer at Politics & Prose, a busy bookstore in Chevy Chase, Md., is mightily perplexed. There is this book, she tells the manager, something about the impending economic disaster, written by a Chinese. At most chain bookstores, the personnel might be equally baffled. But the staffer at Politics & Prose thinks for a moment, and then, from among the shop's 20,000 titles, quickly produces a copy of The Great Depression of 1990 by Ravi Batra -- not a Chinese, to be sure, but the right book nonetheless. Sold.

That kind of encyclopedic knowledge, combined with personal attention, is one reason...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!