Recently my son was looking at a photo of me in my office at work and observed, “You know, Mom, it seems as if wherever you go, you always have piles of books around you.”
Guilty as charged.
I have made no secret of my special addiction to books in previous posts. I truly am. I get a rush when I walk into a bookstore or library. And hitting the BUY button Amazon must generate a feeling akin to a gambler who has just pulled the lever. I love the smell of books. The heft. Looking at pictures, turning pages, feeling the texture. Seeing piles and shelves full of my favorites makes me giddy with pleasure. The (yet) unread stories or the old friends and memories of where I acquired the book, where I read it, my thoughts about it.
The only real drawback with books is the sheer space they take up and how much they weigh. If you’ve ever had to move, you already have learned to pack books into small boxes.
Soooooo….I made a resolution not to buy any books this year. (I truly am overwhelmed.) That still leaves the library and my VINE selections. But…before the new year began, I visited my favorite real bookstore in Louisville. Anticipating spending at least an hour cruising the aisles, I was shocked when I walked in to see how much their book stock had dwindled. Their shelves were now filled with toys, games and puzzles. Gift items and cheap overstock books. But where were the REAL books? The poetry, the philosophy, art and musings? And I realized just then – in a most drastic way – that I was partly responsible for this book shrinkage. The demise of the brick and mortar bookstore.
I shop online for the lowest price, even for used books. I’ll frequently receive a “used” book which appears brand new and it only cost me a penny! (And, yes, I shop Goodwill online, too.)
But what is the future of bookstores if we all shop online or download to our e-readers? Where will our children and grandchildren experience the pure pleasure of fondling the tomes of authors across time and space? That they can actually possess for a mere few dollars?
I used to anticipate for an entire year my annual visit to Ann Arbor, home of the flagship store for Borders as well as many funky used book stores. I’d often wander in with determination and a list. It was a reader’s pleasure garden, a true emporium of knowledge. Well, Borders put up a good fight but we all know the end of that story.
So, my resolution has been amended to buy from and support real bookstores whenever I can. There are no more real bookstores in my little town but all the Google maps of the cities I visit are sure to be starred with my favorite haunts. I look forward to keeping this new resolution.
As for the other, well, it’s only the 16th of the month and I’ve already broken it several times. Oh, well. Keeping authors employed, right?