a novel by JOHN GRABOWSKI

I did something kinky today II…

bookstore exterior

Remember these?

I did it again. I went bookstore browsing a second time.

On this particular street there are two bookstores, one across from the other. I just stopped and stared for a moment. Two independent bookstores. Not just in one city but on one block. Ten years ago I wouldn’t have blinked. Yesterday I stood, amazed. Tears nearly rolled down my cheeks.

When I went inside both, however, I was a little more sobered. The clerks were leaning on their elbows staring at the wall. I was the only person in either store.

I suppose I shouldn’t be too dismayed. It was the middle of the day, it was a Wednesday. And in one I heard someone who was either the owner or the manager tell an incoming cashier, “I’ve sold 15 books so far today.” Being how tomb-like it was when I was in there and considering it wasn’t even quite noon yet, I was actually impressed.

Again I luxuriated in browsing shelves, something we used to take for granted but which is now a rarified experience. And it’s not just with books. Over the weekend my wife and I went shopping for a new TV. Our eleven-year-old Sharp LCD, one of the earliest LCD models out there and a terrific set, finally gave up the ghost.

There was only one store where we could check out new models, BestBuy. (Okay, I suppose there was Sears, but the nearest Sears isn’t very near and they’re dying too, so they don’t really count.) I didn’t want to just order something online without seeing it. The last time we bought a TV we were able to compare models and features and interfaces in The Good Guys, Circuit City, and other stores. Now all gone.

I know online is cheaper, and I like to save a buck as much as anyone. But don’t people miss shopping? Don’t people enjoy losing themselves in a bookstore, record shop or even appliance store?

And mailing a 50″ flat panel back to the manufacturer if there’s a defect or just a cosmetic scrape is not a task for the faint-hearted. Or weak-backed.

The First Bad Man - Miranda JulyBack to the bookstores. Again I made an impulse purchase in one. (The other one has a new book on George Washington I’m considering, but I haven’t even read the last book I bought on George Washington yet.) Again it was fun. I wouldn’t have done this online, even though the same book is 40 percent less. In the grand scheme of things, when you consider people sometimes spend hundreds of dollars a month to have a phone that does absolutely useless things for the most part, spending a few bucks isn’t that big a deal if it keeps people employed and neighborhoods nice. It’s part of an eco-balance the way any environment-improving, lifestyle-enhancing gesture is.

I was able to sit down on a soft couch near the back and read a good chunk of the book, which convinced me it was something I’d enjoy and not just something I’d put in my electronic shopping cart for a month until I finally grew tired of seeing it there and deleted it. It’s much easier to close a sale when you’re holding the merchandize in your hand, rather than looking at a thumbnail jpeg of it.

Experiences like this are just far too rare these days. They’re to be cherished. I look forward to the next one. Even if I do have way too many books to read now.

Read part I, I Did Something Kinky Today, here.

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