WASHINGTON — President Obama, joined by his daughters, went shopping Saturday at Politics and Prose, an independent bookstore in the capital, in what has become a Thanksgiving weekend tradition for the first family to honor Small Business Saturday — an outing that mixed policy and purchases.
The president and his daughters, Sasha and Malia, browsed the shelves and chatted with customers before buying two bags full of books at the store, where they also shopped at this time last year. According to a White House print pool report, Mr. Obama at one point held a patron’s baby.
At the checkout counter, a cashier asked the president, “You from out of town?” Mr. Obama replied, “I am. Do I get a discount for that?” Another cashier jokingly offered a “neighbor discount.”
“I’ll take that,” Mr. Obama said, in an exchange captured by a television pool video posted by CBS News.
Mr. Obama spotted a new book behind the register, “The Stranger: Barack Obama in the White House,” by Chuck Todd, host of NBC’s “Meet the Press.” The president noted that he looked “lonely” on the cover, and Malia asked, “How is he already writing a book?”
With a smile, Malia added that her father looked sad on the cover. “Looks like a sad book,” she said teasingly, in a typical family exchange not often seen from the Obamas in public.
One customer asked Mr. Obama about closing the military detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and the president responded, “We’re working on it. Thank you. Any other issues?”
The Obamas bought 17 books, including several intended for children, among them titles from the “Redwall” fantasy series by Brian Jacques and the “Junie B. Jones” series by Barbara Park. The memoir “Brown Girl Dreaming” by Jacqueline Woodson was also selected.
One classic made the list, “Heart of Darkness,” by Joseph Conrad, and a few contemporary releases, like “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr, “Nora Webster” by Colm Toibin and “The Laughing Monsters” by Denis Johnson. They bought two nonfiction titles: “Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth and Faith in the New China” by Evan Osnos and “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End” by Dr. Atul Gawande. Also among the Obamas’ purchases were “Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms” by Katherine Rundell and “The Narrow Road to the Deep North” by Richard Flanagan.
Mr. Obama said that some of the purchases would be Christmas presents, but did not specify which titles were gifts. Introduced in 2010, Small Business Saturday encourages shoppers to support local, independent stores, even as corporate retailers push for big spending on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
On Saturday, the White House posted a quote from Mr. Obama on Twitter: “As we mark #SmallBusinessSaturday, let us continue to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit wherever we find it.”
After the cashier rang up his purchases, Mr. Obama handed over a credit card. “Hope it works,” he said.
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