I happened to be in Borders on Sunday, just looking around. I was actually looking for a decent place to have lunch, but I have difficulty passing a bookstore without looking inside. In any case, what it brought home to me more than anything was that there are a great many very/rather bad books being published.
I've occasionally daydreamed about starting a bookstore that was done right; Brandon's Choice Books, I always think of it. It would only have good books -- and I'd be pretty generous with that label, since all one needs is good for their kind. But it would be a store where you could always guarantee that you'd find every work by Jane Austen or J.R.R. Tolkien that is currently being published; where the philosophy section would be large, classics in every genre would be easy to find, and the light throw-away fiction that was available (for there would have to be some) was all on the shelf because someone who likes reading had liked it, and wholly for that reason. The science section would not consist of bad popularizations, but of actual introductions to actual science, decent-quality scientific biographies, and classic works. Political hackery of whatever stripe, whether left, right, up, down, backwards, or what-have-you, would never even make it to the floor. The store would not look like an expanded airport bookstore. It would not have many comfy chairs, which is perhaps a con, but on the other hand it would not have them because the store would be overflowing with books. There would be a print-on-demand press for public domain books; there would always be academic works bought wholesale and remaindered and used so that they were relatively cheap; the science fiction sections would be to die for; if you suddenly had a hankering to build up your own mystery collection, you could at one location buy virtually every Rex Stout and Dorothy Sayers and Ellery Queen and Agatha Christie that's currently in print. It would be a nice bookstore; shelves upon shelves upon shelves upon shelves of books. And when I finally manage to sell my ocean-front property in Arizona to fund it, you are all invited to the Grand Opening.
If you had a bookstore like that, what authors and titles (from any genre whatsoever) would you make sure were always in stock?