Those days of yore!
I seem to be in some kind of a reminiscing chain these days. I keep finding in my email those 'remember when' messages, often accompanied by pictures. The problem is, I do remember when. I prefer to think that means I have a good memory rather than I'm aging.
Yesterday I joined two friends for coffee. We've known each other for the 17 years I've been in the book world. One used to be a sales rep, then a store owner and continues working in the trade. The other was a sales rep who has recently retired but can't keep away from it -- she's now working in a local Indie. It's that bad -- it really gets in your system.
We got to 'remembering when' but it was the kind of nostalgia that bordered on the shared belief that those were 'the good old days'. We talked about customers we'd shared -- they would shop the Indies and knew us by name, and we, them. At times I bump into a former customer at a shopping mall or a choir event and they always say, 'I sure miss Prime Crime'. And, 'do you miss it?'. We still know each others' names.
There were the customers who would spend a couple of hours wandering, building a stack of books to buy, talking to other customers and staff, and just enjoying the bookstore experience. I do that whenever I go into a bookstore, especially when I'm traveling. Museums, art gallerys? Sure...but take me to your local bookstore, too.
Often when talking about buying books, people will say, 'I buy them on line these days.' There's nothing wrong with that. But there's none of the pleasure of being surrounded by shelves of books, touching them, looking at jackets, reading a few paragraphs. Imagining them stacked up on that ever-growing TBR pile.
I took great pleasure in introducing customers to a new author, pointing out the latest in a series I knew they were reading, or just sitting around talking books.
I thought, and still think, that bookstores are part of the fabric of a community. Sure, I do miss Prime Crime from time to time, the customers in particular, but I also miss the good old days when there were many Independent bookstores in town and we shared our love of the industry. Maybe I am getting old.
But the book community, every facet of it, is a wonderful one to be part of!
Linda Wiken/Erika Chase
A Killer Read coming April, 2012
from Berkley Prime Crime