As a bibliophile, I fear the coming demise of an institution and product I love, the bookstore and the physical book. With technology, we became able first to order books online, then to buy electronic editions, both actions facilitated by one particular company.
The virtual bookstore, however, could not replace several aspects of the brick-and-mortar variety. The old-fashioned institution is an actual locale; a place of respite for your home or place of business. Not just that, you could could discover treasures just by browsing — or by chancing upon one title while browsing for another. Or while randomly wandering through a bookstore alone — or with a friend.
This happened to me on Sunday evening when, after dinner with a new friend in Glendale, we ended up in an adjacent Barnes & Noble. There, in the essays section, I alighted on a book about a man, Lionel Trilling, who crafted an expression that helped me define my sometime predicament in life (“the dark and bloody crossroads where literature and politics meet”). I might not have discovered the book through an amazon search. Trilling doesn’t always come to mind.
Yet, for nearly two full days after first seeing the book, this book kept coming to mind. I have this crazy theory (well, maybe it’s not so crazy) that if you see a book in a bookstore and you keep thinking about it (without outside prompting), it’s a sign that you’re supposed to buy the book.
So, today, rather than return to Glendale to buy the book, I ordered it. On amazon.