Thursday, November 1, 2012

Remember Bookstores?

Washington, DC's historic Union Station

I read yesterday that another bookstore -- Barnes & Noble in Union Station -- is biting the dust and it's just incredible to me that a bookstore, in the nation's capitol, in a train station, where you can buy a wide variety of things to read, is closing.
I posted about this wonderful book store in December 2011 (Books @ Union Station December 8, 2011) and find it sad that it will soon be closed.  Do people not read books anymore?  I find that hard to believe.  Whenever I'm on Metro people are reading and books are everwhere at the beach. 
Maybe Kindles and a rocky economy are the cause.  A Barnes & Noble spokesman told The Washington Post that the company had to leave because of redevelopment around Union Station.  That's another bad idea but I won't even get into that project.  Barnes & Noble was offered a new location but decided instead to close its Union Station store.
I'm sure I am showing my age by saying this stuff but I can't help it.
I love bookstores.  Books allow your imagination to run wild and escape to other worlds and learn about new things.  Books help you feel you are part of the larger human community and help you heal and become resilient.  You read about others who have experienced the same thing you have and feel less isolated.  Plus, remember that most movies were inspired by a book. 

Buying books online from Amazon just doesn't do it for me.  If I happen to know exactly what book I want, then it's different.  But I can't go on Amazon's website and pick up the book, twirl through the pages, hold it and read random parts of the book so I can decide if I'm going to buy it or not.  Or ask the Amazon website if it has read the book, and if so, what does it think of it?  Hey Amazon, what did you think of this book?  Is is worth reading?
I can see myself as an elderly person (which of course is way off in the distant future) with a young child on my lap trying to explain to them what a book store was:

"Really?  You mean there used to be stores and all they had inside were books?"

"Yes, dear, and you could browse among all the books and look at the new titles and the books on sale and sometimes, just by chance, you would find a wonderful book that you never heard of because you spent time reading the covers and talking to other readers."

"Oh, but it sounds like a lot of wasted paper! Think of the trees!"

I used to spend my lunch hour at the Borders bookstore at 18th and L Streets but that closed last year after declaring bankruptcy.   Now there are only two bookstores close to my office: the Barnes & Noble on 12th Street and the independent bookstore, Kramer's, located  at DuPont Circle.

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