Jason emails me:
I would be interested to read on your blog about how you would shop for books in Daunt (or any good bookstore, but Daunt since you mentioned it). Is there method to your browsing/do you ask for recommendations, etc. Is there a person there who you particularly rate? It sounds basic but I think readers would be interested in knowing your approach. I live in London and too often walk out of a bookstore with books I have already heard about rather than taking a chance on something new.
Daunt has about seven or eight main “pressure points” near the very front of the store, and they are easy to find, and that is where you should look for your books. My key advice for Daunt is simply to have a basket, and/or an arrangement with the front desk that you can rest your accumulating pile of books there while you continue to look for more.
The basement floor of Daunt is organized by country, rather than by genre of book, and each visit you should scour at least two country sections for new (or older) items of interest. Overall I find that “by country” is a better to organize the back titles than what any other bookstore does. So, for instance, Chinese fiction is put next to Chinese history, not next to other fiction.
What makes the Marylebone branch of Daunt the best bookstore is how they organize the store, and the quality of selections they put on the front tables, not the overall number of titles.
Making random purchases of featured fiction, if it looks vaguely intelligent, is not crazy in Daunt, yet it would be in literally any American bookstore, or even in Waterstone’s in London (another superb store, go to the Piccadilly branch, but use it for history and biography not fiction).
If you are in a Barnes and Noble, mostly focus on finding the “new non-fiction” section, which these days is increasingly difficult to come across and ever-smaller.