The Lost Joys of the Bookstore

Headed out while on a brief stay elsewhere and they had a real, honest-to-goodness bookstore nearby. It wasn’t quite the Mom & Pop store for which I’d been hoping, but it was a bookstore.

Spread out before me, behind a glass edifice, was a vast expanse of paper and forgotten words. Authors known and never discovered, their proud achievements gathering dust as bargain hunters went through the shelves to see what was for sale.

The sections were laid out with helpful headers. True to form, though, the searching had to be done methodically and without any assistance but sharp eyesight and the desire to discover. For someone impatient as I can be, this is a lesson in discipline. I stopped by the obligatory toys section (everything marked up ridiculously), breezed through fiction’s overwhelming plethora of popular authors on the top shelves, and drifted past the books about serial killers. Stopped by the graphic novels and sci-fi sections.

In short, I targeted the usual sections, and then found my eye drawn to the reliable classics-for-cheap section.

Ah, the bookstore. Where you can get your steps in looking for something you’ll enjoy generally while sitting on your butt.

They’re certainly a dying breed. I wrote a snarky post a long time ago called Bail Out Borders when that chain collapsed and, for some reason, wasn’t given a reprieve.

Aside: The post was removed years ago when I saw the clear trend that people didn’t understand satire anymore and, in a weak moment, purged the blog of a lot of posts. This purge happened because I disliked the hassle of joyless chodes patrolling the internet for things about which to get mad. I’m considering republishing them, because not many people read this blog anymore – I see the stats – and I don’t care as much now.

Anyway.

Being in a bookstore always puts me in touch with some of the best memories of my youth. Discovering new Star Wars books (Heir to the Empire was a legitimate surprise when I saw it on the shelves those many years ago), digging through the clearance bin, feeling the urge to walk out with something.

I had some really fun and odd interactions with other people in bookstores, too.

That’s all replaced now with shopping on Amazon, of course. Why go to a book store and dig for something when The Algorithm knows my preferences so well?

Frankly, some of the magic is missing now.

The Algorithm robs some of the joy of the unexpected find, the impulse buy, the fact that today I saw a reprint of a book from (The Absolutely Batsh** Crazy) L. Ron Hubbard, written before he ever dreamed of Thetans.

A 1936 story I didn’t even know existed, written by a talented-yet-nuts writer?

FOR THREE DOLLARS? YES, PLEASE.

So yeah, I miss the lost joys of the bookstore. I wish they could make a comeback.

They won’t, though. The closest bookstore to me, part of the Barnes & Noble chain, just closed its doors for good. Borders died years ago, Barnes & Noble is likely on that path, and so we’re all left with the impersonal recommendations of the false-choice hallways of our Internet prison.

Good thing I’m committed to maintaining the health of the Bookshelf of the Banned.

kessel komments

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