I nowadays have the feeling that not only are most bookmen eccentrics, but even the act they support—reading—is itself an eccentricity…. One could argue that Dickens and other popular, serially published nineteenth-century novelists started this…. But the silicon chip has accelerated the process of interruption beyond all reckoning….
Still, it’s at least possible that these toys will someday lose their freshness and an old-fashioned thing, the book, will come to hold some interest for the masses again.
Then again, maybe not. Reading itself may have already become a mandarin pursuit….
- Larry McMurtry, Books: A Memoir
By the time Internet book selling became first possible, Marcia and I thought the matter over and decided we did not want to put our stock online. We were in-shop, off-the-shelf booksellers and that was that. We don’t even like to catalogue: in thirty-five years we’ve issued two. We put attractive books on the shelves and hope that someone will recognize this and walk in, peruse, and purchase.
At the bottom of our resistance to Internet book selling is our history. We always wanted not just books but a shop. Many of our customers have become friends. Like us they enjoy seeing and touching the books. Our stock represents our taste. What fun is there in clicking, compared to the pleasure of handling a fine copy of a rare book?
We understand that we’re privileged, but so are many booksellers, so if we’re going to do this at all, we might as well do it our way.
|Bookseller at Dog Ears Books, Northport, Michigan|
Book selling will never quite expire unless reading expires first. The secondhand book business, both as a trade and as a subculture, has existed for centuries because people want to read, and the assumption book dealers work on is that people will always want to read.
But will they? Seeing the changes that have occurred in the last few years, I sometimes wonder.
Civilization can probably adjust to the loss of the secondhand book trade, though I don’t think it’s really likely to have to.
Can it, though, survive the loss of reading?
|(These neighbors don't read, but I love them, anyway.)|
|Friendly Bookstore, Willcox, Arizona|
|This Benson, AZ, bookseller retired.|
|We don't know the story of this Benson bookstore's closing.|
|Singing Wind is still in business ...|
|... selling all new books and specializing in the Southwest.|
|Also, Sarah (in background here) has her Northport fans!|