The Big, Lame Tent

Bookstores are better

The vaunted Big Tent, boasting smoothies, beer, burritos, bloggers, and an endless parade of VIP guests, is wicked lame. The creature comforts are nice, but it is hot and crowded and self-congratulatory (I’m with Groucho Marx when it comes to meet-kindred-spirits things like this), it makes it easy for bloggers to just stick to the tent (and to the Kos/Google-approved presentations) instead of finding their own stories, and it is suffused with a corporate spirit that is no less oppressive for all its studied niceness. The real cool kids congregate next door, at the low-key Tattered Cover Bookstore, where the wireless is free, the chairs are comfortable, the staff is friendly, and the corporate groupthink is nonexistent. “We wanted to create a real blogger hangout,” I heard one staffer say this afternoon. They have absolutely succeeded.

That said, it is 4:00, and I am definitely headed to GoogleWorld for a beer after I post this.

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Justin Peters is editor-at-large of the Columbia Journalism Review.