The Unknown: The Red Line.
  Pages for All Ages in Champaign has long been my favorite new bookstore in East Central Illinois. It was around before the Barnes & Noble, long before the Borders, and offers a fine selection of titles.

I was in fact surprised that it survived the incursion of the Barnes & Noble. I continued to order all my new books through Pages for All Ages, even when it became cheaper and easier to order them through, because I wanted to help the little local store from going under.

Eventually, of course, I had spent so much on books that I had to sell my cars, and my relationship with Pages for All Ages was troubled. It was in West Champaign, I in Urbana.

I am pleased to announce that, since the aggressive independent bookseller Pages for All Ages moved to its new location in Savoy, it has adopted a peculiar and innovative strategy to compete with the two corporate superstores looming over the desolate sprawl north of I-74. Pages for All Ages has become the world’s first 24-hour independent bookseller, bar, laundromat, and bowling alley. They feature live rock music on the weekends, they have a boggling array of imports on draft and nightly specials, their washing machines are first-rate, and you wouldn’t believe the lanes.

Imagine going to buy books and finding the band The Poster Children playing live by the poetry section. You wander over to the bar and order a white pizza with spinach, artichoke hearts, and feta cheese; and a pint of Okocim Porter. You buy a Dover Thrift Edition copy of Frankenstein and head down to the lanes. The lanes are beautiful, the alley dark but the lanes themselves bathed in a weird green glow. The scoring consoles are futuristic and many of the balls glow in the dark. There is an occasional burst of smoke from dry ice machines.

After you roll a strike you go to put your laundry in the drier. The machine offers you many dials so you have a great deal of control over your delicate washables. The Bounce is complimentary!

All in all, it is an amazing place to go. There is still a fine selection of books. Sometimes people even buy a book or two. Nevertheless, the store seems guaranteed to remain in business for time to come, despite any fluctuation in demand for literature, and, most importantly, despite major chain booksellers’hopelessly outdated idea of a book superstore.

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The Unknown at Spineless Books.