The Crowdsourced Map

When I was first visiting New Zealand, before I ended up moving there, I took a ferry across Waitemata Harbour to go to Devonport. I have enjoyed every trip I’ve taken to Devonport, and at various times I took my girlfriend (now wife) and my parents (still my parents) there, and they enjoyed it as well. But this was my very first visit, so I was just getting the lay of the land.

After visiting the library, walking around the public parks, and taking a jaunt up and down Victoria Road (which is different than Victoria Street, in downtown Auckland…they’re big fans of Queen Victoria, there), I thought I’d look for bookstores.

I found Paradox Books pretty quickly, but they sell new books. I have nothing against new books, but to me there’s nothing like a used bookstore.

Google Maps told me that there was a used bookstore in Devonport. It gave me an address, not too far from the cafe where I had stopped for a bite of lunch, so I set off.

A couple of minutes later (Devonport is not a large town), I arrived…at a store that sold beauty and hair care products. Odd. I must have gotten the address wrong. I looked it up on my phone again…nope, I’d gotten it right. I thought maybe it was a North vs South situation (I’ve inadvertently gone to 165 North Main St instead of 165 South Main St before, for example), but that didn’t seem to be the case…hm. I spent a lot of time looking around, walking up and down the street, trying to figure it out. The employees at this random cosmetics shop probably thought I was a weirdo.

“Well”, I said to myself, “I guess the bookstore is no longer here.”

On the map there was another used bookstore, Evergreen Books, but it was marked as closed. Well, I might as well go check it out anyway and see what’s there now. It was almost back down at the wharf, but I walked all the way back down and found that in the spot where Evergreen Books used to be…was a used bookstore, called Bookmark. (There’s a subtle joke hidden in that website. It calls Bookmark “Auckland’s best and easiest to find second-hand bookshop,” which is undoubtedly a riff on one of the other well-known Auckland bookshops, Hard To Find Books.)

I deeply enjoyed browsing Bookmark. It’s really an excellent used bookstore, and remains one of my favorites in Auckland.

I figured I’d do them a favor, so after browsing to my heart’s content, I pulled out my phone and went to the Google Maps listing for Evergreen Books. I edited the name to reflect its new title and marked it as not closed.

A few minutes later, I got this:

Well…I guess this might not be as quick or easy a favor as I thought it would be.

Perhaps I was not convincing enough. I tried again, providing a link to their website as proof. And…

Rejected again!

At this point, I decided that if Google were bound and determined to report the wrong information, far be it from me to stand in their way. The store seemed to be doing plenty of business despite the fact that Google reports them as closed and with the wrong name, so I figured they didn’t particularly need that favor anyway.

My wife and I visited Bookmark in February, and it’s still open (obviously as I’m writing this it’s closed, as New Zealand are still on lockdown, but here’s hoping they weather the storm and reopen when it’s safe to do so!) and still doing bustling business. And wouldn’t you know it, Google have somehow managed to update their records and now show it as open with the correct name.

When the robot uprising happens, find a store that they think is closed and hide there. Even if they see you there, they will refuse to acknowledge that it is open and you can hide with impunity.

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