I’m writing this before I leave on my Japan trip. As you read, I may be eating sushi (not) or taking the Philospher’s Walk in the mountains outside Kyoto. “The world is so full of a number of things, I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.”
I’m looking forward to seeing what book stores are like there. Before I leave here, I’ll be stopping into Mac’s Backs, one of the three superb indie bookstores my community is lucky enough to have. Mac’s sells new and used books, and I’ll be stocking up on paperbacks I can shed as I finish them. I’ll have a chat with owner Suzanne, probably the most modest hero I know. Suzanne has been in business for decades, through thick and very thin, and she offers in spades everything you think of when you think bookstore: what you’re looking for, the unexpected find, thoughtful tips, the chance to bump into a neighbor. She hosts book clubs for all ages, as well as readings by nationally known and local writers. Susan hosted the book launch for What Happened on Fox Street, and in September, she’s sponsoring a reading by my writing group (which please come to). All stuff that needs an actual, real live place to occur.
All of which is to say, she and her store are irreplaceable. I’m pleased to note that, midst the endless bad news about book store closings, she and her two local comrades tell me their sales have gone up since the local Borders closed. Not only that, the American Booksellers Association reports that the number of indie book stores rose last year, the third straight year of increase. The Dance of Joy, please!
And yet…these stores need us. Need us bad. They haven’t survived out of luck, but due to their owners’ passion and persistence. Hard as it is to resist the instant gratification lure of Amazon, I do, again and again. Thrilled as I am that my books are available in every format including e-book, I worry a lot about what that means for the brick and mortar places I love.
June 16 is this year’s designated Save The Bookstores Day. Just as every month should be Poetry Month and every day is Children’s Day, we shouldn’t need an official day for shopping our indies, but we do. (It’s also the day before Father’s Day.) Treat yourself to a new or used book–you and your bookstore owner deserve it.