The big news in the writers circles these days, is the demise of the Borders bookstore chain. There is a lot of upset and fear as well as sadness surrounding this event, and, as usual with us older folks, it triggered a memory. I will now share that memory with you.
Many years ago, in a small town out west where I was living at the time, there was an old bookstore. It was filled to the rafters with shelves of books, piles of books, new books, old books, collector’s items, used books, and reading nooks. Coffee was free, and occasionally, so were the cookies.
This store was operated by an elderly couple who loved books. Often, as one browsed the shelves, one would become entranced as you listened to them read aloud to each other. She would suddenly begin to read from her book, and all other books were lowered to the rest position as we listened to her rich contralto. It was magical. As her voice fell silent, we would return to our own books, but soon his deep basso would begin to read a passage. Yep, we all stopped to listen.
Now, you know how life works. A big bookstore chain moved into town, all shiny new, fancy coffee area, book sale specials, etc. It didn’t take long for the old store to go under. I walked by on my way to work the day the closed sign was nailed to the door. A good many of us mourned the loss, and felt so very bad for those two delightful people.
It was not long, however, before they started showing up in a nearby coffee shop, and, as was their habit, they carried books with them and read aloud to each other. Soon the coffee shop was full all the time, for one never knew when they would arrive. It did not matter, for the owner had a reserved table for them, no one else was allowed to use it.
The kicker here is, the owner was actually paying them to come to the shop and read aloud, four times a week. The old lady told me one day that they were actually making more money this way. She did admit that she dearly missed the old store and hoped that one day someone else would open one like it, for they had carried much that the big chains would not.
Perhaps now, with Borders gone, there will be room for something new and different to move into the gap, for nature does dislike a vacuum. I hope so.