Merry Meet and Merry Part, and Merry Meet again

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Observations from a Bookstore Cafe

A good place to be on a very rainy day is the neighborhood bookstore. Specifically, the bookstore cafe.  Routinely heading directly to the favorite shelves, grabbing the next book in the series, or the latest from the best author. Maybe selecting a gardening book to peruse, or that interesting-looking but too-expensive pagan book. Grab a glossy magazine, dodge the kiddies by the toy section and claim a table by the window in the cafe.

Appropriately supplied with a fragrant coffee, maybe a large oatmeal-raisin cookie the next half hour or so is spent flipping through the magazine (carefully, of course, so as not to spill coffee on the pages, because this will go back on the shelf for others to look at, before possibly being purchased by someone who thinks it is crisp, new and unread. Sometimes the music that plays from the ceilings is soothing, today it is a little loud and perhaps a bit too off-beat. Still it will not drive the customers away.

An elderly couple have just finished their soup of the day and are setting up a game of scrabble. Three giggly teenaged girls are drinking gigantic frozen coffees and texting like mad. A very studious man is engrossed in his laptop and chugging mineral water. The baristas are making a lot of noise behind their counter and machines are whirring and blending. A steady stream of mothers with babes enter the cafe, order something sinful, and leave quickly. The babies are restless and cannot be relied upon to be quiet and still while moms chat.

The manager of the bookstore is a very tall fellow. He towers over his employees, the bookshelves and the customers. He seems quite friendly. And very knowledgeable as he explains the features of the e-book his store is selling. Serious, middle-aged women listen with rapt attention, raising their gazes to the manager's face, high above them. They seem awe-struck as he goes through the various applications and mysterious workings of this device that could well be the hammer that nails the coffin closed...the coffin being the bookstore itself and his very job. Does he see the irony in this?

As the rain falls steadily, more customers come rushing in, seeking solace, a chance to spend a little time amongst the books and music, stationery and puzzles, coffee and cakes.  Everyone seems amiably occupied. It is a rich atmosphere of companionship, literature and good will.

There have been rumors that this bookstore may close. The hours of operation have already been reduced. What a sad thing it will be if this happens. There are no small, independent bookstores around this town anymore. They were victims of this particular large store. The coziness of those little shops went the way of the general store, where folks gathered to talk around the cracker barrel long ago. Even though these big stores can seem corporate and commercially oriented, they have supplied the means for social commerce that many people crave.

Surely, books won't disappear too. It could never happen. Not in this day and age. Right?


mxtodis123 said...

Many of the little bookstores that I once frequented have closed their doors. Some have moved away from the city. Reminds me of the movie "You've Got Mail."

goddessandmagick said...

My favorite book store here at my area,just close down for good. I use to take my kids there . The raining day are always the best,a book a cookie and a cup of coffee. It is sad to see them going away. Is the new era of e-books.

Anonymous said...

I loved reading this! You made me want to go there too :-)

But book stores are getting rare here in the countryside now and the few still left certainly has no cafés. But I´ve heard that exists in the bigger cities though.

I really don´t hope that books will disappear, I would miss the smell of them and the feeling of opening a new page.

Have a great day!

Magic Love Crow said...

I really truly hope that books won't disappear! I have never read an e-book and I really don't want to. I love holding a book and reading it on my own time, in my own way. Something special about that! I've seen some of the smaller book stores go away in our area and it's just too bad!

Mina said...

I am truly hoping that at least a few remain. I could spend hours within the walls of such rich knowledge.

Róisín said...

What an excellent post! I feel like I've just been there with you, and it was lovely :) Sorry I've not been over much recently, I've become a very bad blogger indeed. Going to get a good catch up with your posts now though. Hope all is well and you're having a lovely weekend!

Roisin x