I saw this photograph the other day and I felt a pang of guilt over my customary use of that great and wonderful service that is Amazon. Now I first discovered the full joy of ordering books and CDs (yes I still buy them!) online when I lived in the country where I found that Amazon could deliver a package almost as quickly as I could get my act together, put some clothes on, unpark the car and drive ten miles to be told that the book I want will have to be ordered and it would take somewhere between one week and two weeks.
In those early days of enthusiasm I think I must have given in too radically to my rather immature desire for instant gratification and I forgot the joy of browsing in a good (and well-stocked) book shop. I have even missed those conversations with the often erudite and civilized people who work in them.
No amount of instant gratification would thrill me if all our small independent bookshops end up like the one in the photograph. So, I suggest that you, like me, try to use them whenever possible. After-all, book browsing is as sensually enjoyable experience as coffee bean roasting, French marigold deadheading or baking bread. Try it sometime – before it is too late.
Independent bookstores are my favorite destinations to explore in a new city. (I just finished reading a book from Seattle's Elliott Bay Book Company. They have author talks almost every night!) There are less and less of these independents, though, and this saddens me.
Saddens me too…I have loads of warm memories of American bookshops….we over in the UK still have lessons to learn from them and it is definitely not the time for them to disappear.
Unfortunately our independent bookstores on this side of the pond are slowly closing also. We can blame no one but ourselves… I tend to check for the Amazon "kindle daily deal" as part of my morning routine now…. sigh.