A sad holiday tale from Barnes & Noble

The beleaguered bookseller said late Thursday that comparable-store sales slid 6.4 percent during the crucial nine-week period ending Dec. 30.

A Boston Globe story.  No link, I don’t link to The Boston Globe.

At one time (before the fire) I had a library and a very large collection of books up in the attic, mostly Science Fiction but I  read history, biography, detective stories . . . etc.  Two thousand? Three thousand?  Not sure, it had been years since I had last tried to count.

I have maybe a hundred books now, mostly older titles and all old friends inside the covers.  During the late fall power failure (due to a tree down across the driveway and the power line)  I started rereading the Hornblower books, starting with Mr. Midshipman Hornblower.  During the current sub-zero cold snap I’ve finished Commodore Hornblower and are about to crack the cover of Lord Hornblower.

Oddly enough Lord Hornblower is the oldest book I still have, since I rescued it from the old bookshelf at my parents house before it was sold.  It is one of the first books I read through it was (I was told) above my reading level.  I think I was eight.  My grandmother worked as a bookbinder at Little & Brown in Boston (No, she was not a robot, human beings used to do that kind of work exclusively).   She brought all kinds of books home, books that were ‘irregulars’ and dumped into a bin that employees could pick through.  When I first read it, C. S. Forester (the author) was still alive.  As I grew older I hunted down the rest of the Hornblower books, about the time I acquired the last full novel, “Hornblower in the West Indies”,  I discovered that the author had passed away.  That was the first time I experienced that shock and sense of loss.  I was to feel that way again several times; from Robert Heinlein to most recently Jerry Pournelle.   For me, books are personal and close friends as are many of the authors.  (The only two I have really known and spent time with was Isaac Asimov and Harry Stubbs, both NESFA members.)

Needless to say I’ve spend a lot of time in libraries and bookstores in the early years of my life.  Though I spent a lot of money at Borders I don’t morn it as much as many of the smaller bookstores I used to go to, it’s hard to grow an attachment to a corporate entity.  Ditto for Barnes and Noble,  the first bookstore to introduce ‘loyalty’ cards to the bookselling business.  For which I do not love them.  But; “The Million Year Picnic”, “Avenue Victor Hugo”,  the Harvard Square bookstore (the independent one, not the Coop). . . and many, many others that I did love.

In fact it is the memories of the cherished small bookstores of my youth that caused me to start writing.  (May not get posted, much of what I write when it’s personal and stream of conscious-like doesn’t get posted.)   In Brookline I read that the independent bookstore that has been there for years has triumphed  over the Barnes and Noble chain store, that has now closed.  I like that.

I think that in general I like small over big.  Small bookstores, small vegetable stands, small restaurants and (of course) small government over Big Government.   I’m almost tempted to try to start a small bookstore/cafe of my own.  Almost.  I’m still in Taxacusetts, so I doubt it.  Then there is the current American trend towards illiteracy,  functional illiteracy at least.

Update: the perfect cartoon for this post just showed up!

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About On the North River

Forty years toiled in the Tel-com industry, married for 36 years widowed at sixty-one. Tea Party supporter. Today a follower of the God-Emperor Donald. Do like to kayak, cook, take photos, bike, watch old movies and read.
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