Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Another One Bites the Dust

I was broke and in Portland at the end of a disastrous tour when I fell in love. Considering that prolonged exposure to the people I was traveling with would be bad, I needed a place to hide out for about 15 hours. And then I met Powell's Books. Oh. My. It would appear that the love of my life was a city block sized bookstore. Not only did I spend most of my day there, I went back every day I was in town. When we left, my band mates complained of Portland being cold and gloomy, but to my mind the weather was always 72 degrees and florescent. To me, Portland was Powell's.

I thought about this as I was watching a documentary the other night. What if that Powell's was a Borders? Would I have felt that same sort of excitement? Probably not. A good independent bookstore has a sense of place and uniqueness. You know that you won't find another place like it in the next town over. It feels like you've walked into somewhere special. That's why people are so partial to their community bookstores.

But bookstores are businesses first and foremost, which means they are subject to the same axim all businesses are: thrive or die. Unlike the big bookstores though, when an independent like Cody's dies, it makes news.

The only reason I mention all this is because Willow Glen Books is on its way to being in the past tense as well. And while I don't have a love affair with that bookstore because it's a little far from me (I learned my lesson about long distance relationships when Powell's and I broke up at the Oregon/California border... something was said about it seeming like there were "miles between us"), someone over in Willow Glen probably does. And their heart is going to get broken.
posted by jw