Mere Commentary II

“THEY’RE CLOSING MY BORDER’S!”

Yeah, I know. They closed mine two months ago. I was with it when it went; “Happy Trails” was playing on the sound system. I shall miss it. Of course, I am already missing Kroch’s and Brentano’s, Rizzoli’s, Stuart Brent’s, Waterstone’s, B. Dalton, Waldenbooks, and that little bookstore for children that used to peek out the back of the 900 N. Michigan Building. (We will not discuss the little bookstore for adults that sat more or less where Walgreen’s is now on Walton Street.) In a way, I guess I even miss Crown Books. I expect I will one day miss Barnes & Noble, too.

For those of you who don’t know, that first list was of bookstores that have disappeared from the Near North just in the few scant decades I have….

Okay, start over. For those of you who don’t know, a bookstore is a place like The Gap, only instead of a million somehow different pairs of jeans, they have books for sale. Yes, there was once a time when you could buy a book without having to go online. Sorry: yeah, I realize it is the duty of every American to be online at every waking second, but once upon a time you could buy books the way you would a cup of coffee at Starbuck’s. And it often served the same purpose: you’d be gathered in a room with other people in line to buy something similar and, just as you might meet someone at Starbuck’s who shares your taste for chocolate scones, you might, at a place like Border’s, meet someone who shares your taste for poetry about vampire podiatrists.

Yes, I KNOW you blog twice a month and tweet every day to the friends you met on the Toes-n-Necks Vampire Podiatrist website! But this was a place where you could know what they looked like, because you could actually see them down the aisle, picking up the latest Feets and Fangs Sonnet Collection. You say you don’t necessarily want to know what your friends look like? You may have a point there.

But a bookstore was a place where you could spot an interesting cover on your way to buy something else, or catch a glimpse of a title you wouldn’t have known existed. And you could pick it up and riffle through it and maybe decide it was not what you wanted and put it back, all without having to switch on any machines or rev up any search engines. And you could….

What are you doing? Don’t try to fool me, peapod: you’re playing Angry Birds on your telephone again, aren’t you? Okay, don’t listen to me. Go to the Newberry Library, and turn right as you enter the lobby from the front stairs and take a look at the A.C. (Ancient Culture) McClurg Bookstore. You may want to pull out your phone and take a picture. None of your friends will believe such a place exists. 

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