Now that Blockbuster has gone the way of the dodo, closing what remained of its stores at the start of this year, it seems the end is near for physical media. The fall of the former giant of home entertainment is just the latest reminder that the now omnipresent Kindles and Nooks, iTunes, Netflix, and Amazon Prime have had a profound effect. Media that doesn't exist outside "the cloud" are truly a thing of the past.
Vinyl has definite cultural cachet these days. It's cool again, so indie record stores seem to be out of danger, at least for the time being. But what are bibliophiles and cinephiles to do? Bookshops and video stores may be increasingly rare, but there are still a few places left fighting the good fight for those of us who still take pleasure in scouring shelves, enjoying the tactile feeling of picking up a book, or scanning endless rows of DVD spines.
Stepping inside Rick's Recycled Books (739 Monroe Ave., 442-4920) is a little overwhelming at first. It's exactly the sort of place you'd picture when asked to imagine a used bookstore: overstuffed shelves crammed with books, extra piles precariously tucked into every corner, and a slightly musty smell. It's cluttered, but in the way that just makes you excited to see what gems you can find hidden amongst the chaos. Amusingly, when I chatted with the owner, he seemed apologetic that what I was seeing was actually a lighter selection than usual since he hadn't been out to a book sale in a while. His collection leans heavily toward fiction, with science-fiction, fantasy, and mystery being especially well-represented.
Greenwood Books (123 East Ave., 325-2050) has a slightly more academic vibe. The selection seems to favor non-fiction and older titles, with a focus on the humanities — I noticed sections for everything from Ancient Worlds to Gender Studies. Fittingly for a location so near to the Eastman School of Music, there are several large sections for books on music, along with an impressive collection of sheet music from a variety of genres.
Located in Henrietta, Bookends (1550 Jefferson Road, 272-1943) is a secondhand bookstore tucked away in the corner of Bowl-a-Roll plaza. The store is quiet enough to hear the faint echo of bowling pins flying, and it makes for an oddly comforting soundtrack to book browsing. The selection strikes a nice balance between fiction (with a definite emphasis on sci-fi and fantasy) and non-fiction, covering a variety of topics.
One of the only remaining locally owned bookstores that sells new books, Lift Bridge Book Shop (45 Main St., Brockport, 637-2260) does require a bit of a drive to get to its location in downtown Brockport — but it's worth it. You can find current bestsellers, magazines, novels, and reference books, along with a large selection of children's books and gifts. The store has a lower level for used books, art supplies, posters, and a generous section for local authors. Lift Bridge also plays host to loads of events, including author signings and book-club meetings. Visit the store online at liftbridgebooks.com.
As much as I love bookstores, video stores are my passion. I can spend hours walking up and down aisles, reading the back covers, looking for the right movie for that particular night. Sadly, video stores are harder and harder to come by, but there are still a few around locally.
Video Barn (2045 Empire Blvd., Webster, 670-0611) is a small store, and the shelves often seem haphazardly organized — but the selection is pretty impeccable. Browsing is fun, but if you're looking for something specific your best option to have the clerk look it up for you. The store stocks plenty of classic and obscure cult films, with a clear emphasis on anime and Asian cinema. The back of the store is devoted to adult titles. Rentals cost $3.50 for older titles, which you can keep for five days, and $2.50 for one-night new releases.
Located in East Rochester in the Piano Works Mall, Hyatt's Classic Video (349 W. Commercial St., East Rochester, 586-1054) has the feel of a place that hasn't changed since the day it opened. Divided up into large sections, the front of the store has all of the DVD titles organized alphabetically with no distinction between genres. But more exciting is the back portion of the store, which is devoted to shelves stretching nearly to the ceiling, containing older titles on VHS. I'm definitely planning a trip back just to search that collection for all the weird, esoteric titles no doubt sprinkled throughout. Hyatt's charges a one-time $10 membership fee to start renting, which includes two rentals from its catalog titles. Thereafter, rentals are $3, getting you one week with older titles, and three nights for new releases.
I'd be remiss if I didn't also mention Outlandish Video and Gifts (274 N. Goodman St., 760-8383), a great little store in Village Gate, offering a large collection of LGBT (and LGBT-interest) films for rent. Considering all the options, it's nearly impossible not to find the perfect movie, no matter what your mood.