Today is quiet. The southern Rockies that I see out my windows are dusted with snow and the sun peeks in and out between broken clouds. The wind is picking up and the temperature is below 50—it’s a pretty typical winter day. Later as it cools, I think I’ll make a fire.
My goals for today are modest, sort through the recycles, do a few loads of laundry, and write a blog. I’m trying not to get a cold so I’m drinking lots of juice and I am spending most of the afternoon reading, one dog sleeping below me and the other curled up on the couch. It’s a bit chilly so I cover myself with an afghan that my mother knitted years ago. Pretty cozy.
The afternoon has passed. I have finished a delightful mystery by Louise Penny. I’m feeling pretty rejuvenated so I can actually sit down at the computer and write the blog that has been rattling around in my head over the past week.
About 10 days ago, I went to the local bookstore. The same bookstore as the other 700 across the country that look just about the same as this bookstore. I go to this book store because the other two stores that I used to shop at went out of business. I walked in, and there was a visual change.
What happened to the jammed shelves? There seems to be more open space. I understand that the e-readers are here to stay, but what’s with the big sections for toys and games?
What happened to all of the books? Honestly, like all authors, I secretly, discretely (and of course just once or twice) scurried down the aisles of bookstores all over the world counting how many copies of books with my name on them were in the store. Having co-authored 9 books in 10 years with Chuck Elliott (who is usually with me on these covert operations), those numbers would range from a couple to more than a dozen. Well, recently, like many authors, our trips to bookstores have decreased. Shelves are curiously stocked with fewer books and fewer copies.
It was not a coincidence that last Sunday’s New York Times Business section featured a piece by Julie Bosman titled “The Bookstore’s Last Stand,” an interesting, timely, and frankly scary article. I admit I own device to which I can download books. I have enjoyed the convenience of easy, instant, and lightweight media. However, I have spent many hours in libraries and bookstores, wandering among the shelves picking something up, reading a bit and then putting it back or not. Will online stores really give us that same freedom or will we be filtered to material that seems to fit our online profile?
I feel very blessed that I had a very small place in the book business. The business of writing takes hard work, determination, perseverance, and in return, has been loads of fun. I have met many interesting people, enjoyed taking risks, and done many things that I would not have done as a psychologist. I hope if they close the bookstores, that something will take the place of the bookstore. But, I don’t know what so I grieve about books. Meanwhile, how about I download that next mystery?