Our local mall isn’t exactly a hotbed of activity. Most of the stores are empty. All over America, kids consider the mall a favorite hang-out. Here, I imagine they would rather watch paint dry. It’s sad to see this architectural monstrosity wasting away on prime real estate.
Seeing a closed bookstore always strikes me with sadness. When I was young, I volunteered in the school library. All those shelves laden with distant lands, exciting experiences, historical events–they awed me. Still do. I wanted to read almost every book there (school libraries include books about science, math, and other such dry, sweat-producing, nightmare-inducing topics. I steered clear of those!).
Later, before college, I worked in a bookstore called 5th Avenue. If the employees didn’t damage the books, we could read all we wanted and put them back on the shelves. I was in heaven–just like in the library, except all the books were new and scented with ink instead of age.
Now I’m writing books in an era when stores are closing and electronic books are the new rave. By June, Give the Lady a Ride will join the ranks of books ready to zip through cyberspace and land in whatever handheld device the reader has. Part of me finds this amazing. Another part of me dreads the idea that this new life will obliterate the old, and I’ll never again see my book covers on my own shelves.
The strongest feeling I have is one of age: I’m not really old, but I am. I wonder if this is how folks my age felt when cars replaced buggies or TV replaced radio.
Maybe it won’t be so bad though. Microwaves didn’t totally replace stoves and ovens, they just became another tool in the kitchen. And, really, radio isn’t dead in spite of TV, and with the gas rates as high as they are, buggies may make a come-back.
Maybe electronic books will become just another source for readers and won’t replace bookstores and libraries entirely. Maybe I’ll see The Cat Lady’s Secret on my shelf at home and not just on Amazon. Maybe it’s not as bad as I think.
And maybe I’m not all that old.