You may not be consciously aware of it, but your brain works very hard each time you step into a new bookstore. Your eyes take in swirls of colors on the surrounding shelves. Your nose catches a whiff of paper. And then prehistoric hunter/gatherer instincts start to kick in, pulling a familiar order out of the chaos of sensory input: Here is the fiction section. There are magazines. These books are for children. They’re all arranged alphabetically by the author’s last name.
“It’s really an interactive experience,” Ferguson says. “I want a person to come in and look around and say, ‘What do I need right now? What kind of book would help me in my life based on what I’m going through, or how I’m feeling?’”