I know I’ve used this image before, but I love it. A stack of books reaching high into the sky and mixing into the scenery, weaving stories. I mean, really, for lovers of the written word, what isn’t there to love about it?
The loss of bookstores makes me sad. The lack of a variety of bookstores makes me sad when I used to spend hours and hours and hours combing the shelves, grabbing a stack, sitting in comfy chairs, and flipping through pages, then often taking most of my stack to the cashier, and walking with new worlds and ideas to explore, words to get lost in.
What’s brought on my sudden melancholy for bookstores, my pining for the good old days?
A trip to Barnes and Noble.
A couple of days after Christmas, I went out looking for a journal. I haven’t found ‘the one’ yet, but I will.
I walked in to the two story building and at once, fell madly in love again, and felt my heart break.
Books were my escape growing up. They were my journey into understanding life and ultimately pieces and parts of myself.
I loved browsing in bookstores, going to the book section in any store. My three favorite places to go as a teen were the book store, the music store, and the pizza place. One day I’m going to go on a lament about how much I miss music stores, too.
But in Barnes and Noble the other day, I looked and looked at the journals and notebooks. I picked them up. I touched them. I put them down. I wandered through the coloring books and the bargain books. Then, I wandered upstairs to the fiction section and the children’s books. I didn’t go through them. I simply walked along the perimeter. I know my face showed my longing. I know my eyes spoke of my sadness and my elation. The store was packed. It was busy and it was alive. People were buying books… a lot of books!
The Starbucks was busy, too, but more than that, people were looking and flipping through pages while sipping coffee or cocoa or noshing on a piece of cake.
My son doesn’t have an affinity for reading more than the sports pages.
My daughter doesn’t have an affinity for reading any more, either.
But me? I never grew out of it. It’s a temptation and a love affair I’ll never tire of…
There are 4 or 5 Barnes and Noble stores left in the greater Charlotte area.
There are a couple of Books-A-Million stores, but they never held for the wonder that Barnes and Noble always has. There was something about walking into one and just… Wanting to live there among the stories.
There are used bookstores and libraries. But there’s something about new books with spines never cracked or folded over, with new pages and freshly unpacked, new ink smells.
There are two local bookstores as well that sell new books (neither of which have a romance section at all). But they are loved. They are small, pigeon hole size shops. They serve their communities well. But when I lived in Florida, there was a local bookstore I used to visit all the time. They had a romance section to rival any larger bookstore. I would spend a lot of money and a lot of time sitting on their stools, reading.
I love a discount as much as anyone. I love a good deal on anything. But there’s something about paying full price in a bookstore for a book you’ve been longing for, that you’ve been waiting months, or longer for, that makes my heart ache.
I miss bookstores. I miss Barnes and Noble being everywhere. I miss Borders. I miss Waldenbooks. I miss walking in empty and walking out full of endless possibility.
Something profound has been lost with brick and mortar stores that you can’t replace with online ones. In this business of publishing, we try. And in this world, we love convenience and right now and 1-Click shopping. I love it just as much as the next guy.
Something is missing, though. For me, that something, is wonder.
One of my goals this coming year is to visit Barnes and Noble and the two local shops more often. Much more often. They’re all out of my way. I don’t venture into those parts of town very often. But I am going to make an effort to do so because I miss bookstores.