So today was my birthday and because It’s a Monday and I was going to be alone all day I thought, I should go to a book store! Now, we haven’t lived here long (being a military family) and though I knew of a Barnes and Noble 35 minutes away I thought, there MUST be a used book store somewhere near me, RIGHT?
There were no bookstores within driving distance of my house besides Barnes and Noble. I had been aware for some time that bookstores had been dwindling. Even where we used to live, a Barnes and Noble was 30+ minutes away, but used bookstores were pretty commonplace and easy to find in most major towns. My grandma used to visit one where she could trade in the romance novels she had read for new ones on a regular basis. My mom consistently makes trips to a large second hand warehouse/store to trade in books. Never had I dreamed that in this more-populated place we moved to that there would not be a single used bookstore within driving distance.
Looking back I shouldn’t be so surprised. Last year The Bronx lost it’s only bookstore– a Barnes and Noble, actually- creating a book-desert in a place that desperately needs books available. It is New York City’s poorest borough and though the store had originally been a win for the area, it was placed nowhere near a train which made it difficult for residents to go to. Despite this, residents tell stories of regularly making the trek anyways. 3000 protestors showed up to save the store, but the store lost it’s lease to a Sak’s Fifth Avenue outlet anyways in the fall and is now gone.
One of those protestors was Noelle Santos and now she is on a mission that I admire immensely. She wants to bring books back to The Bronx. She plans to start The Lit. Bar and has reached 125% of her Indiegogo fundraiser but in NYC (as everyone knows) the rent is outrageous. She is still taking in donations so that she will have enough to buy inventory, The Lit. Bar is bound to be a success (pun intended) as it will be a bookstore and wine bar. Patrons will be encouraged to sit and read and talk about the books they are reading. Hemingway would drool and probably move in permanently if he were still around. I hope she reaches her goal, and I know I’ll be making a trip there when she does.
As far as my own area goes, the book- desert will continue to bother me until I find a solution I’m sure. I would love to open a bookstore but It’s just not a feasible option for me right now. My favorite place to be is between two large shelves of books though, looking for a new favorite.
I’m sure many of you are hurrying to the comments to point out Libraries but that’s just not the point. Libraries are incredibly important, absolutely! We should support them and visit them often. Sometime’s though, you just want to own a book. Maybe you are a collector or you just like to reread your favorites on a constant basis. Sometimes you’re in need of education books. The point is, people need a place where they can go to choose those special books in an area that supports your local economy. Many bookstores have found it incredibly beneficial to work hand-in-hand with local libraries, and vice versa. One does not threaten the other, but the more of both that are available, the more people (especially children) will benefit.
For those of you who don’t live in a book-desert, please visit your independent bookstores- used and not- often. They need your support and patronage because without you, they could easily become another clothing store in the shopping center.