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Maybe Miles Davis's Kind of Blue is playing when you walk in. Maybe you spot on the newsstand a literary magazine you've never heard of -- Tin House, for example. Maybe when you're inside the store, slowly looking over the new books displayed on tables and the older stock arrayed on dark-wood shelves that reach far overhead, something reminds you of a long-ago favorite. Maybe it's John Updike's Rabbit, Run. Maybe at that moment a bookstore employee walks by, and you ask about the book, and she says, "Yes, right over here." And maybe, seconds later, she hands you a recent Ballantine Books trade paperback edition, and it is cool to the touch. Maybe you then decide to buy a cup of coffee at the in-store café and walk out into the courtyard to sit at a table under a palm. "Boys are playing basketball around a telephone pole with a backboard bolted to it. Legs, shouts," you read. Maybe right then you appreciate how fortunate you are.

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