I was downtown at Union Station the other day and was surprised to see that the Barnes & Noble store there is still open. Now that Borders has closed and the Barnes & Noble store in Georgetown has been bought by Nike, I am always happy to see a book store open and bustling with customers.
I find it’s such a indulgent luxury to browse in a book store. To go from table to table and shelf to shelf, to look at the covers of the books, pick them up, read through them and just feel the weight of the book in your hands is to get lost in your imagination. I find books to be comforting especially when they reveal new information to me, when I can escape into them and when they help me understand something that I have been trying to wrap my brain around.
Yes, Amazon is very convenient but it’s just not the same. When you’re hanging out in a book store, you see books you’ve already read and enjoyed and you also think about how much work went into writing them; at least I do. Others may think that books are work and not pleasure but I think that means they just might not be reading the right books. Although let’s be honest, there are some books that in a million years I will never figure out how they got published. But that’s a different story.
I’m afraid the book store as a store will no longer exist in a few years and that will be very sad for me and for the communities that once supported them. As a place to sell books, Union Station is perfect because people are hopping onto trains from DC to everywhere and it also is a Metro stop. Even though the bookstore chains don’t seem to be staying afloat in this economy, there are two independent bookstores in my area, Politics & Prose and Kramer Books, that seem to still be doing very well. I’m crossing my fingers that it stays that way.
I used to think that if you saw a store with people inside buying merchandise that it was a good sign. I no longer think that because it doesn’t really mean anything other than there are people in the store while you are looking at it. The corporate offices of the stores you are in could be literally selling the store out, merging with another store or simply making really bad financial decisions.
So let’s try to keep bookstores out there for everyone to enjoy! When in doubt of what to buy someone, always buy a book!