Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Digital Books Killed My Local Bookstore

A sight almost lost
Maybe it is anachronistic in this digital world to believe that there remains a place for brick and mortar bookstores, that there remains a tactile benefit to holding a book in your hands, smelling the freshness, the promise the unopened, unread pages seem to spread from fingertip to brain to heart. Maybe the world is outpacing my tolerance because for me there is a benefit, a thrill I feel in being surrounded with words, little realities distinctly their own.

Being in a bookstore is like finding yourself a god in flesh-form with the power to peek into one thousand thousand worlds just by extending a hand and grabbing hold.

My local bookstore is closing.

I’m old enough to remember the grocery store in town, the one with the sloped wooden floors, that hand tallied the groceries. Now you can get an app on your phone that scans your products while on the shelf and if it takes more than five minutes to get your groceries scanned and bagged then the cashier must be an idiot.


I hear folks saying, “It’s more convenient now, we have more time.” Only really, though we have more time, what do we actually do with the extra hours?  Yeah, it’s easier to go online and instantly get a book I want to read and nobody really likes long lines at the grocery store but what the hell.  What has convenience and progress gained us?

I still only know one language, I haven’t written a tenth of what I currently have kicking around in my head, I don’t see my mother enough, my garage remains a wreck and you know what else? I haven’t even bothered to cure cancer, either. And neither has anyone else. We have, as a society, managed to find a way to bitch more effectively, to produce more crap and voluntarily embrace  a progress that only manages to isolate us more each day.

There were some nice older ladies who worked at the bookstore who won’t have jobs and though I don’t know their names save one, that means there are four or five more folks I won’t see anymore just so I can push a button in my house in the name of convenience. And that, folks, just sucks.

This digital world pushed one more bookstore onto the refuse heap and there are many who would applaud that and say that we are following a logical, necessary and desirable path forward.

I say bugger you.

I say that even while acknowledging my own hypocrisy because here I am, just another digitized dick bitching.