Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Goodbye, Waldenbooks

I don't get angry that easily, but the news that the last 2 remaining bookstores in my area are closing did NOT sit well with me (a third closed earlier this year). I guess for all of the money that I've spent in each of the 3 stores over the years, it just wasn't enough to sustain them.

I absolutely love bookstores for many reasons. Besides the obvious--browsing through the shelves and checking out the latest best-sellers or finding a new, "must-read" author--they have become a bit of a sanctuary for me. I find it soothing, somehow, to be surrounded by all of those ideas and information. It makes me feel small and anonymous, which is relaxing sometimes. Call it a religious experience if you'd like--all I know is that wandering through a bookstore brings me a tremendous sense of peace.

The 3 to close are part of a chain, which is part of the problem--chain stores need to reach certain sales goals and apparently these stores just weren't cutting it. There are a few "big box" stores about an hour's drive from me, and I admit that I enjoy the variety and availability that those stores have. But for my little community and my voracious habit (but schedule that prevents me from getting to all of the books that I have to read more than I'd like), what we had here was just fine. I posted something about the store closings on Facebook and a few of my friends had similar reactions. Although we aren't exactly a bustling metropolis, we do have some culture, but literary offerings come up short, so it was good to have something locally.

I also love the good old-fashioned independent bookstores, though they're even harder to come by where I live. I've always had this secret goal to open my own little funky independent store, just because there are so many more things you can do with that type of place than you can with a chain. My absolutely favorite bookstore is an independent; again, a good distance away, unfortunately, though I get there as often as I can. It's the oldest bookstore in the country and has loads of charm and history to boot.

I'm very sad about this. Although I've become a loyal customer, there's just nothing like spending countless hours searching through the shelves in a real live store. As my friend said on her blog--"You shop online for books you want; you browse bookstores for something you didn't even know you wanted." I think that sums it up perfectly.

Has the recent economic slump impacted any of your favorite book outlets?
Flickr image by brewbooks

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