I love books.
If you know anything about me, this should not come as a surprise. I am an English Major. The majority of my Facebook posts are about the books that I am reading. When I am not reading, I am usually writing or thinking about the next book I am going to read.
As I was growing up, people would often ask how I liked to read. Did I like a hard cover book or a Kindle? I always struggled with this question, because I prefer the hard copy version of literature—I want to be able to touch the pages, and yes, smell that fresh-book smell—but I recognize the convenience of a Kindle or in buying a book online. We live in fast-paced world now, where purchasing items online is no longer a luxury, but a frequent occurrence. The internet is accessible and easy to use. After all, I am writing this article, which will be posted online. The idea of printing this piece out and handing it to people on the streets is ridiculous. So, why do I insist on the hard cover books? Why should I be upset that physical book stores are in danger of going out of business as buyers flock to the internet to do all their shopping?
I believe that there is something special about a bookstore. In my own experience, bookstores are a quiet space away from the insanity of the outside world. They are simple, just shelves and shelves of bound books waiting to be read, but it is in there simplicity that they inspire so much. A bookstore is a physical place where you can go and simply enjoy literature. You can read in a bookstore, or you can simply wander through a maze of shelves. Bookstores often host events: you can hear poetry, perform your own work, listen to an author speak. A bookstore is more than a place to purchase new reading materials and calendars; it is a community.
I have had long conversations with complete strangers in the fantasy/sci-fi section of Barnes and Noble. Brought together by our shared love of the genre, we provided recommendations, and celebrated our favorite authors and series together. I have met one of my favorite childhood authors while shopping at my local bookstore. I have attended poetry readings at several independent bookstores, and experienced the incredible way in which words can give voice and meaning to the most tumulus moments in our lives. I have witnessed how language and story telling can shape the human experience. A bookstore is a space that not only sells books, but celebrates them, and that is something that I will never be able to experience if I buy a book online.
So, dear reader, I urge you to stop at your local bookstore when you get the chance. You do not have to buy a book, but I would encourage you to spend some time in the store. Wander the shelves. Talk to the people who are there. Experience the magic. I think you will be glad you did.