Homage to Books and Bookstores
Some say that bookstores are on the path to extinction. Like ditto sheets and cassette tapes, and tv’s with rabbit ears. In fact, there was a column in the Boston Globe recently about a school that’s planning to discard its entire library and become solely digital.
That’s right, no books at all. (Gasp!) I could hardy believe it. I felt incensed – how dare they take the young away from real live books, the texture of the paper, turning of the pages, the holding and carrying and the lining of shelves with them.
Okay, so a textbook might not be so lovingly treated, and in some ways I might even (dare I?) agree with digitalizing some of that to alleviate not only costs but the cumbersome qualities. But surely that’s not all they teach from. What about novels and short stories and poetry?
I’m no wimp when it comes to the digital world. I adore my Macs. I’ve used them professionally since they were first introduced. They’ve made a massive difference – without the slightest doubt, for the better – in the production aspect of my work. I have enormous appreciation for the wonders of the computer. And I’m definitely on the high end when it comes to time spent and knowing one’s way around the computer. They’re essential – and I love them! I even name them for crying out loud.
But no books? That’s taking it too far.
Yesterday I was signing books at The Town Book Store in Westfield, NJ, and I have to say, it’s a really lovely shop. It’s a small, independent bookstore, but not so tiny that you can’t move around comfortably. Owner Anne Laird has done a beautiful job. It’s well lit, well designed, and truly a pleasure to walk into.
The word delicious comes to mind – the very deliciousness of its books. The Town Book Store is a yummy place with plenty for the eyes to feast upon, and like a box of chocolates, you want to try them all and have a hard time deciding which to taste first. You gaze at the colorful wrappings, you want to pick them up, touch them. You gingerly open first pages with wonder and anticipation of what new acquaintance you’ll meet inside, what new thoughts, journeys, revelations or scrumptious tidbits you’ll discover.
And being in that shop reminded me of that article I’d read about about New England’s Cushing Academy abandoning its library.
How can ebooks ever replace the marvelous textural sensation of bound and printed works? To think they even could! There’s so much more to a book than the printed word … there is the presentation, the feel, the weight, the scent. There’s the deliciousness.
Their passing would be an atrociously sad day.
PS: My daughter also made a fantastic, practical, far less romantic point: “You know, computers crash – books can’t!” …Wise words from a teen.