In the world of books and authors and the business people among them, things and people come and go just like everywhere else. Stephen Covey, familiar isn’t he?, of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People fame passed away at 79 last month, July 16th. Bookseller Irving Oaklander, is also dead at 88 on August 8th. I am not very familiar with Oaklander but certain words in a tribute written for him by Steven Heller endears me to the kind of person he was –
“… he kept a booth at the Greenwich Village Antiquarian Book Fair… beckoning all passersby to feast their eyes as they page through the material…. He invited me to his Upper West Side book business… the main bookcase -the spines said it all. Indeed, Irving had them all. Every classic and many obscure volumes that I would have died for then… Irving was the Trader Joe of rare design books.”
It’s not just book people leaving. Bookshops are too. With the full-blown utilization of the internet our reading lives have been revolutionized by e-readers. Amazon, what a giant! We see traditional bookshops disappearing. We mourn, yes and then what? Mourning does not exactly resurrect dead bookshops.
Fortunately everything is not dead or lost yet. Hope is alive as there are still a few bookstores existing around us. This is where we are advised to invest in our hope. In other words stop lamenting and put your money behind what you love. When a bookstore is in danger of being closed down, do something.
St Mark’s Bookshop in New York is in danger of being closed down due to high rental costs. Karen the Small Press Librarian lists ten reasons why people should help the bookshop survive. The scenario is not so different from the future of other bookstores anywhere else in the world. There is one among Karen’s reasons that I think we can relate with – the bookshop is “not just a place that sells (and curates) culture and history, it IS living history.” Isn’t it quite compelling when put like that? Any book lover in his right mind and heart would not be willing to part with such a thing of beauty as a bookshop without first putting up a fight, i.e. investing in hope.