Imagine it: Northbrook Court had a couple of bookstores in the same mall. Down the road, two other bookstores competed nose-to-nose at Lake-Cook and Waukegan. Highland Park had a big one on Central; all the North Shore suburbs featured bookstores.
Today, website shopping, e-publishing and reading devices are closing the book on much of that business. These contemporary conveniences are pretty cool. But you can’t help thinking …
There was a day when you stood in one of those bookstores scanning colorful racks of new releases. The smell of glossy paper, fresh ink. You were looking for a good summertime story — but didn’t know exactly what it would be.
Then, maybe a previously unknown author caught your eye. Richard Ford, say. A guy you’d never heard of. Popular wisdom says you can’t tell a book by its cover. Baloney. Ford’s “The Sportswriter” grabbed you. Since that day, you’ve read many more of his books as they came out over the years.
It didn’t have to be Ford. It could have been somebody like Gillian Flynn, another discovery who wasn’t, at the time, a household name like Grisham or Hemingway.
These authors were strangers until you bumped into them by chance in a bookstore while perusing the aisles. Without stores can such random encounters still happen?
Of course, you can shop online. But how likely is it you’ll discover something there that you weren’t already searching for by name? This is a turn of the page in modern literary marketing.
All you can do is shrug it off; just go with the flow. And go to the North Shore’s remaining bookstores while they’re still hanging in there.