About a year ago I did a blog post called, “Support Your Local Independent Booksellers.” While I’ll admit that I do order books from Amazon.com from time to time, I really prefer to shop at Burke’s or Davis Kidd in Memphis, and at Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi, and Lemuria in Jackson, Mississippi. Why? The service, the atmosphere, the informed staff, the love of the book that permeates the air inside these literary havens.
So, tonight when I took a break from the holiday festivities to sit by the fire and open the January/February 2010 issue of Poets & Writers Magazine, I was thrilled to see that Square Books in Oxford was selected for the first of a series of profiles on indie bookstores. You can read the article, which includes Jeremiahs Chamberlin’s interview with Richard Howorth, here.
My favorite part of the interview was this part of Richard’s response to Jeremiah’s question, “With developments like the Kindle and Japanese cell-phone novels and Twitter stories, how does a bookstore stay relevant in the twenty-first century?”
“The way I see it though I think that digital technology will go on, on its own path, no matter what. But in terms of books, I maintain that a book is like a sailboat or a bicycle, in that it’s a perfect invention. I don’t care what series number of Kindle you're on, it is never going to be better than this. [Holds up a book.] … this thing is pretty wonderful—and irreplaceable.”
And so I’m off to bed with, you guessed it, a good book. Hardcover. First edition. And when no one is looking, I just might run my fingers over the pages to feel the texture, and pull the book to my nostrils to breathe in that comforting “book smell.” It’s all part of the experience. (Flannery O’Connor admitted to loving National Geographic Magazine because of how it felt and smelled.) And like Richard said, it’s irreplaceable.