The first email I received this morning came from my daughter in Nashville, announcing that Davis-Kidd, my favorite bookstore there (one of my favorite bookstores anywhere) is closing as a part of the Joseph-Beth Chapter 11 proceedings. These announcements are becoming more and more frequent, in part because of the decline in reading, in part because of all the online shopping avenues, and in part because of electronic books.
Surely I'm not one of a meager few who enjoy the experience of shopping in bookstores. I like the displays, the sales tables, the infused scent of coffee and pastries. I like to strike up conversations with strangers as we peruse the shelves. I tend to monopolize the time and attention of the employees the way I once took over the elementary librarian as my personal assistant.
I like to discover new authors, and I like to check off my own "already read it" list. I don't know any way to singlehandedly save bookstores, especially independent bookstores, except to buy more books and to encourage others to do so. I think more book clubs should hold meetings in bookstores. I think Christmas shoppers should consider the advantage of doing a majority of their holiday shopping there. (Just consider how much easier books are to wrap and to transport.)
I think of students who sign up for online classes only to find they miss the actual physical presence in the classroom. I consider all the disappointing online and catalog purchases--clothes I should have tried on before buying. Can you imagine in later years waxing eloquent about a well-loved website?
Maybe bookstore rescue parallels the old starfish story: I can't save them all, but maybe I can make a difference to one!