The Bookstore

     The large bookstore stood cold and empty.  Shelves were loaded with books, magazines, CDs, sheet music, even textbooks and blank journals.  The globe lighting hadn’t been turned on in months and the easy chairs scattered about sent up clouds of dust as I lowered my weary body.     

      The children’s section hadn’t heard laughter or the sound of tiny hands caressing the spine of a book or seen a face upturned in awe as a young storyteller spun yet another tale.  Wasn’t it just yesterday that I’d brought the neighbor’s children here for story hour?

        Stained coffee cups, small plates and soup bowls lay about the counters and tiny tables in the café.  The place where I’d met friends and talked for hours and shared the names of favorite novels, critiqued each other’s writing, and waited with anticipation for the next author’s book signing.

        The bookstore was a casualty of the times.  For the past three years I’d watched a certain pattern.  I’d enter the store with a list of ten novels I wanted to read and I’d be lucky to find one or two.  Of course an employee would always offer to order the book for me but why bother?  It was easier and cheaper for me to order online plus get free express shipping.  The big box store on the internet had the bricks and mortar beat in every category.

        The trend of e-books hasn’t been easy on bookstores, either.  Yes, I, too have a Kindle but there’s nothing like the feel of a book in my hands.  I love it.  I want to write in a book, pass it along to a friend. Then she’ll write in it too and  pass it along to someone else.  Books keep people connected the same as bookstores.  I love to hear, “Will you meet me at the bookstore?”  How about you?  Are you going to the bookstore soon and what do you expect to find there?

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About Sheri de Grom

Retired Fed/JAG, 5 yrs. on Capitol Hill. Former book buyer for B and N. Concerned citizen of military drawdown. Currently involved in mental healthcare reform, health care strategist and actively pursuing legislative change wherein dual retirees are exempt from enrolling in Medicare at their own discretion without losing tertiary healthcare benefits. Monitor and comment on Federal Register proposed legislation involving Mental Health, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, Medicare and rural libraries. Licensed OSHA Inspector to include Super Fund sites. Full time caregive to Vietnam era veteran. Conceptualized, investigated possible alternatives, authored, lobbied for, and successfully implemented Title X, Section 1095 (known as the Third Party Collection Program of Federal Insurance).
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20 Responses to The Bookstore

  1. I totally agree with you. There’s nothing like the feel of a book in my hands.

  2. cindy knoke says:

    Very sad! But I have to admit I love my kindle fire!

    • Cindy – I must admit I haven’t been in the B&N where I shopped exclusively (well almost) exclusively for many, many years. However, I could never find the books I wanted and they are not customer friendly. It’s sad to see the unwise decisions upper management made. Yes, I too occassionally read on my iPad and before that my Kindle. I still love the feel of a book in my hands and the very idea that I’ll be able to pass the book along to others after I’ve finished reading it. I know I can loan out my kindle purchases but the person on the receiving end must have a ‘friendly receiving device’ and they only have 2 weeks to read the novel or whatever they bothered. Thanks so much for reading with me.

    • Cindy – I agree it’s extremely sad. The book stores are not keeping their customers for a variety of reasons – even those of us that would prefer to shop there.

  3. Lynn Garrett says:

    Signing in late, as usual, but your observations are still right on track. I don’t think I’ll ever smell coffee without thinking of the bookstore.

  4. Bonnie Zimmerman says:

    Sheri – The Bookstore brought me so many lovely memories. Thanks. Our society is indeed, changing at warp speed and I sometimes feel left in the dust, choking. Piso

  5. Sheri: That’s the saddest thing about the wave of e-books – I guess the only bad thing. Please let everyone know here on your blog as well as meetings, to choose wisely in this as in buying in print books. I was set to put a lot of my things on the KDP borrower’s list but listed only eleven of them (there are 24 on Kindle and I’m working on another one. ) So do, writers as well as readers, look at all the things offered in print-digital-and the Borrower’s list too. There is no book store in our little town of Cabot, but there is a Hastings in Jacksonville (they have two of my books there right now on consignment (and they make good coffee-LOL)
    Jackie Griffey

    • Good Morning Jackie – I haven’t heard of putting your novels on consignment and I know from experience that you write wonderful cozy mysteries. Maybe this is the same as placing my novel, dealing with mental health issues, out when I do public speaking on the subject. Also, what is the KDP borrower’s list? I’ve not heard of them before. I know you are always ‘out there’ marketing and have great ideas.

  6. Bill Garrett says:

    Hey, Just read your blog while at work (ops…don’t tell). No bookstores where I grew up. My reading interest began during high school and the Armed Forces (Air Force). Strickly, Ian Fleming’s James Bond series. On to bigger and better things now. Sadly, my Kindle keeps me out of the book store. Virtual just not the same. See you at B&B in Little Rock sometime.

  7. Laura Drake says:

    My crit group meets at a bookstore, in the coffee shop, Sheri. I’ve noticed the same thing. The ground floor is almost book-free. Music, notecards, games and calendars fill the aisles. Upstairs (the smaller floor) houses the coffee shop, and the books. Even Nora has minimal shelf space. It’s so sad.

    And since I buy ebooks too, I’m partially responsible.

    Oh yes, and Welcome to WordPress blogging!

    • Hi Laura – I wouldn’t be blogging except for your kind support. Thank you a thousand times over. I’ve loved the big B&N stores for years and of course was a book buyer for one on the east coast after I retired from my real career. So much has changed but a few things remain the same – I’ll be talking about some of the things that remain the same in the coming weeks.

  8. Oh, poignant! The other night I was having dinner with some longtime friends and we started recalling all the places we’ve met over the years — it was surprising how bookstores used to be a regular thing, and now haven’t been for quite a while.

    Maybe the modern equivalent would be Starbucks? Now, if only they had lots of books to choose from alongside the daily newspapers…

    • Thanks for stopping by Laurie. I believe Starbucks is trying hard to capture the ‘living room atmosphere.’ They want people to stop by and stay awhile (order coffee refills and eat more pastry). Our non-chain coffee houses welcome writers that wish to stay several hours and chat or work quietly – but it’s not the same. I miss the aisles of books to wander through. I never knew who I might meet meet or the wonders I might find.

  9. Hey Sheri! Our Borders closed this year and it was very sad. I used to love going there with my daughter and buying her books and also cruising around and looking at the latest releases. After it closed I visited our small chain bookstore and was very disappointed in the offerings.

  10. Nice! I like it. You’ve done a great job and I like the beginning blog, as well. ~ Dave

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