Saturday, September 3, 2011

Death of a Bookstore: A Tragedy in Two Acts

I'll have to admit--I've contributed to the very problem that I'm getting ready to complain about.  I've gone in the bookstores, I've perused their cherry wood shelves.  I've enjoyed the classical music.  I've sipped the cafe au lait.  I've even fondled the leatherbound classics until chills rushed up my spine.  But I've rarely spent a dime on new books.  So, I've got blood on my hands.  I've helped kill the American bookstore.

I don't own a Kindle or a Nook.  Maybe someday, but for right now, I simply enjoy "the novel" as a fashion accessory.  Protocol:  Shower, find something to wear off of my bedroom floor, grab my sandals and my purse, pick out a book whose cover kinda goes with what I'm wearing and I'm good to go!  I don't feel fully outifitted without a good read to carry with me.  I also just enjoy seeing them physically sitting on the shelf, all propped up there in alphabetical order by author, their spines like a glorious patchwork quilt of different colors, title fonts, and paper textures.  I own three copies of "Jane Eyre" just because I like the different covers. 

I love looking at my books while I'm drifting off to sleep.  They are my babies.

Great read during a flight to Utah.  The "lace" chapter will have you rolling.

One day, one day....

I read this on a thirty-minute lunch break years ago, cover to cover.  Somerset Maugham is a smooth writer.

Ha..Can you tell I sort of like John Irving?

I adore these creative Penguin covers. 

What's that you say?  This is the exact same book, printed in the UK under a different name?  Doesn't matter--I want both!  Remember her other book, Chocolat?

Here's my dilemma:  I'd love to support Barnes and Noble, Borders and the other chains that make it so enjoyable to browse.  I appreciate the atmosphere that they've created to entice us to buy their wares.  But when Amazon emerged, their low prices only made it more appalling to pay $26.95 for a hardback in the stores.  I like Amazon when I need something specific and I need it now.  But my favorite way to build my collection is my wonderful public library.   My two favorite locations in my county, Lakeland and Winter Haven, have amazing used book sections where everything is priced at 50 cents, $1, $2 at most!  One of our locations even has a full-blown coffee shop.  I love to see my tax dollars doing something beautiful.....

This is what I bought today for $11.75 total:

"The Bonesetter's Daughter" by Amy Tan, hardcover
"Chang and Eng" by Darin Strauss, hardcover
"One True Thing" by Anna Quindlen, trade paperback (the large ones)
"Girl, Interrupted" by Susana Kaysen, trade paperback
"Hotel New Hampshire" by John Irving, hardcover
"Shopgirl" by Steve Martin, trade paperback
"Same Kind of Different as Me" by Ron Hall, trade paperback
"The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald, trade paperback
"This Boy's Life" by Tobias Wolfe, hardback
"Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet", trade paperback
"Never Let Me Go" by by Kazue Ishiguro, trade paperback
"Still Alice" by Lisa Genova, trade paperback
"Sarah's Key" by Tatiana De Rosnay, trade paperback (for 25 cents, I had to get a spare copy for a

So, while I rejoice in my savings, I can't have my gourmet scone and eat it too.  Lack of support means that more book chains are closing their doors and becoming something disgusting, like a Big Lots or worse, a seasonal Halloween store.  I used to drive by my Barnes and Noble and couldn't resist turning into the parking lot every time.  Today, a fluorescent sign that said "Halloween City" was plastered over the letters that once served as my beacon.

William Faulkner turned over in his grave today.  I'm so sorry, Will.


Kelly said...

Great post. Our local library is having a sale this week to "Friends of the Library" Think I need to go pay my dues to be one. ;) Then I'd need a list of any books we may need this year. ;) Also stopping by from the Crew. I'm another classically minded mom with a little CM and unit studies thrown in.

Kimberly said...

Kelly, I would do just about anything to get into "the back room" of our library where they keep the donations! I would never consider bank robbery, but dressing in black and sneaking in there when they are all closed up for the evening....tempting. LOL.

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