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Monday, February 14, 2011

The Death of a Bookstore

I've said it before, I’ll say it again – The death of a bookstore is a very sad thing indeed.

There’s nothing like a small, Independent hole in the wall that exists because of love, not money. Love of books. Love of characters. Love of fellow readers. So it was with sad eyes that I read an email from the incomparable Jedidiah Ayres, delivering the unfortunate news that one of our favorite little bookstores in St. Louis might close down this year.

Well, Jed’s not the type of guy to just stand around and let that sorta thing happen without a fight. So he and his partner in crime, Scott Phillips, devised a brilliant plan to try and throw Subterranean books a bone.

The Point of this Blog Post

For the last few years, Subterranean has been the official bookstore for Noir At The Bar, an event I’ve blogged about, where writers from all over the literary world stop by the Delmar Lounge in the Central West End for alcohol. I mean, for the chance to hang out with other writers and read the written word to a room full of hungry ears. I myself was fortunate enough to read there last year.

Which brings me to Scott and Jed’s generous, bighearted idea. To publish an anthology of stories from Noir At The Bar by the writer’s who’ve read there. Let me say it’s a great honor to know something I read there will end up in a book that’s being sold to support such a worthy cause as saving a bookstore.

Like all writer types, I love books. I love bookstores, too, and I can’t stand the thought of seeing yet another one disappear into the void. Once the Indy stores are gone, they’re gone. I used to tell my sons when they were little, “The most important card you can have in your wallet is a library card.” Because I wanted them to fall in love with books. The same way I did. The same way YOU did. Preserving the written word is important. I want my kids to take their kids to Subterranean. But with all the technological advancements is that possible?

In the digital age of convenience we’re living in, it’s safe to say any small bookstores still alive and breathing are doing so because inside their heart of hearts, they bleed for the printed word. Sure, everybody loves his or her Kindle, but it smells like plastic!

There’s nothing like being greeted by the aroma of rows and rows of old leather bound hardbacks printed on thin ancient sheets of paper. And a place like Subterranean knows who you are and they know what you like.

If they tell you, “I’ve got something I know you’ll like,” it’s because they’ve taken the time to get to know you, and, well, they know what you like. The difference between Barnes & Noble and an independent bookstore is simple. The chains are in business to make money and the Indy’s are in business to make friends. At the risk of sounding like a two-dollar politician brawling for a vote, if nothing else, do it for the children. Support your independent bookstores before they all die.