The old McKay Books, a fixture on Charlotte Pike near the corner of White Bridge Road, is gone, moved to Bellevue and a different demographic last year. The old store was in an interesting neighborhood where one could watch a bank robbery in progress (I did), or see the homeless picking at the books in the discard bin. Because they paid cash for used books they needed a security guard, but now they are located on the edge of the suburbs where one is more likely to see an armadillo than a homeless man.
The store, which buys used books for a pittance and resells them for cash or trade, now resembles a Borders. The funkiness is gone. They still have a large cookery section( where I have always spent my cash), but I have lately been in their garden section replacing books I sold when I left my house and garden.
The cookery section is huge, since everybody has to eat. But not everyone gardens, and the garden books are fewer. But there are many copies of the Southern Living Garden Guides for under five dollars, though these are older editions. Three or four dollars will buy America’s Garden Guide by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. I bought “Her Garden Was Her Delight”, a book of portraits of American women gardeners for three dollars.
There are many shrub guides, perennial guides, many books on home landscaping. A small section of gardening essays. I found “By Pen and By Spade”, essays from Hortus written by English garden snobs with one American thrown in since he was a Long Island artist, and God knows one can see England from eastern Long Island.
One wonders why so many of these books were discarded, but I suppose if someone in Nashville is silly enough to want to learn about lilacs instead of crepe myrtles, they can do it on the Internet without owning another dust collecting book. I suppose the future of gardening books is as dismal as that of cookbooks. But if one still loves books and wants a garden guide they can hold in their hand or read in the bathtub, McKay is a useful place to buy them for not much money. And if you want to return a book you spent five dollars for, McKay will be glad to buy it back for fifty cents.