Sunday, August 28, 2011
What Ann Patchett Learned on her Summer Book Tour
Of Bugs and Books. (The New York Times, 8/28/2011)
Excerpt: Take bookstores, for example. With the demise of the Borders chain and the shaky footing of Barnes and Noble, one might be tempted to write off the whole business. But as one who spent her summer on a book tour, I would like to offer this firsthand report from the front lines: Americans are still reading books. Night after night after night I showed up in a different bookstore and people were there with their hardbacks. Sure, I signed a couple of iPad covers, Kindle covers. I’ve got no problem with that. But just because some people like their e-readers doesn’t mean we should sweep all the remaining paperbacks in a pile and strike a match. Maybe bookstores are no longer 30,000 square feet, but they are selling books.
The following is to be sung to the tune of any Pete Seeger song:
From Porter Square Books outside of Boston and River Run Bookstore in Portsmouth, N.H., to Politics and Prose in Washington and the fabulous Powell’s of Portland. From Birchbark Books in Minneapolis, to my most beloved McLean & Eakin in Petoskey, Mich., the house was packed. Boswell Book Company in Milwaukee, what a bookstore that is! And the Book Stall near Chicago. (I hit them both in a single day.) Book Passage and Kepler’s and Bookshop West Portal, all in the Bay Area, and on down to the legendary Square Books in Oxford, Miss. (which, 20 years before, filled its entire window with my first novel at a time when I could not draw more than three people who were not related to me). The book, I am here to tell you, is not dead, and neither is the bookstore.