a novel by JOHN GRABOWSKI

I did something kinky today…

No, I didn’t see Fifty Shades of Grey.

I went into a bookstore and browsed for half an hour. Aimlessly. From shelf to shelf. Without an agenda, or an intention to buy anything.

The woman behind the counter asked if she could help me. When I told her I was just browsing, she seemed pleased, and just left me alone.

Sadly, I was the only person in the store.

Granted, it was a Monday, it was in the middle of the afternoon and it wasn’t at a high foot traffic area like a mall. Still, I couldn’t help notice that the phone center store on the same block was mobbed with people—mostly Millennials—swiping and caressing little plastic monoliths, their heads bowed in secular prayer.

I roamed among titles old and new. I was surprised that an author who hadn’t written anything since the 80s had a new book out, and that another favorite, Richard Ford, had added a fourth volume to his Frank Bascombe saga, though after the slightly disappointing third book I’m not sure if this is necessarily a good thing.

Alice MunroI flipped through the books. Flipped through them. Something you can’t do online. Not just every third page or the first five. And in a store, one can also assess the quality of the paper, the print, the binding, and so on.

Just six or so years ago, doing what I did today was not the slightest bit unusual. Recently I was talking to someone at a family gathering and he was extolling the virtues of Amazon to me, “I love ’em,” he laughed. “They had these earbuds for three dollars and I got them delivered to my door the next day! I buy everything from Amazon. I hope they drive everyone out of business.” He thinks he’ll still get things for three dollars the next day after Amazon becomes a monolith. It’s amazing how some people do not understand how the world works.

I had just gone into that store to browse, but I bought a book. And was very pleased I supposed the local economy instead of ordering online, even though, yes, I could have gotten the title forty percent cheaper if a robot had filled the order from a mega-warehouse.

It was honestly the most fun I’d had in a long time. Doing something I used to do all the time and never think twice about…

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2 responses

  1. My favorite thing as well. Sadly, I think that in the next 50 years there will be no more bookstores : (

    Like

    February 27, 2015 at 1:30 am

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