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Death Of The Bookstore?

I just finished reading a book about bookstores and booksellers and their history, called The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop by Lewis Buzbee. Near the end he talks about online book buying, thru such websites as Amazon, and whether or not it will bring about the demise of the physical bookstore.

I don’t think bookstores will every completely disappear. I do think that the discounts available thru websites and big bookstore chains, who can order their stock in bulk, will make it more difficult for independent bookstores to open or stay open. And then there are e-books, which small indie bookstores don’t even have the ability to sell at all. But I’ll be the first to admit that I do the majority of my book buying at a big chain bookstore, namely Barnes & Noble. I also order books online thru Barnes & Noble’s website. And I have an iPad with the Nook and iBooks apps.

I like going to bookstores tho. I don’t enjoy shopping online for books. Most of the experience of book shopping isn’t the actual purchase. There are many times when I go to a bookstore that I don’t even buy anything. I just enjoy being there. I like wandering the aisles, seeing what cover image or title or author name catches my eye. I like sitting down with a stack of books in a comfortable chair, or even on the floor, and flipping thru pages, pausing to read a paragraph or two here and there. I like the way the books smell as you rustle the paper. I like bookstores with inviting sitting areas, that make you want to relax and enjoy your coffee or tea or hot chocolate. I like bookstores that offers a place where your writing group or book club can gather.

I know Barnes & Noble is one of the big chain stores, which is considered the enemy to small, independent store owners. But when it comes to the B&N in Holyoke where I shop, I always think of it as my bookstore. I’ve been shopping at that one store for over fifteen years now. I’m just comfortable there. It’s like a second home to me. I also go to the Odyssey, which is an independent store, and Raven Used Books, but not very often because they are farther away. When I lived little farther east of here I used to love this used book store called The Book Bear. I recently got a brochure listing all the used books stores in Massachusetts. When I get a chance I want to check out the ones that are around here. I like used books. They have character to them.

Another thing that I think will change bookselling as we have known it is the changes going on in the publishing world. With the invention self publishing and print on demand, traditional publishing houses and bookstores are no longer the only path to being a published author. Writers can self publish their books and sell them thru their own websites. With e-books there is no physical book to put on a shelf. As far as e-books go, I can definitely say I do not like reading them as much as I like reading a real printed book. That said, I do believe that switching to electronic publications would have a large environmental impact, both in reducing paper waste and reducing the cutting of trees.

But, if every single book, magazine and newspaper were e-formated, there would no longer be a need for bookstores. A world without bookstores would be a sad world indeed.

Back To Basics

So I’m trying to get back to my writing roots. Pen and paper. No computer or laptop or tablet. I like the physical connection with the page. Its something you don’t get writing on a computer or even a typewriter. It’s a much more organic process when you write by hand. I usually try to avoid writing by hand. I get muscles spasms and cramps in my hands that make it painful and makes my handwriting almost illegible. But I really think it’s the only way I can really write successfully.

Obviously I’ll have to copy it into a computer afterwords for printing and submitting. But writing by computer is just too clinical of a process I guess. I edit too much as I’m writing. It’s too easy to see mistakes and to go back and fix them with a computer. All I do is pick out every little type-o, spelling error, punctuation mistake, missing or extra spaces, and obsess over word choices, and I just edit and edit and edit and get little writing done at all.

So to write by hand I, of course, need writing materials. The pen is non-negotiable. Pentel R.S.V.P. fine point pen with black ink. I’ve used that brand of pen for writing for almost 20 years now. I’ve tried dozens of other brands and styles and I’ve always gone back to that one. A comfortable pen is a writer’s most important tool. Source of paper hasn’t been as important. As long as it has lines to write on. I’ve used spiral bound notebooks, composition notebooks, loose leaf binders, legal pads, writing  journals (alas, no Moleskine). Right now I’m using steno pads. We have tons of them at work so I took one from the supply cabinet. I find them very convenient. Big enough to fit a good amount of writing on a page, small enough to fit in my purse or tote bag, and the added bonus is, since we use them at work, if my boss catches me writing in it she wont realize I’m not working. I don’t advocate slacking off at work, but if my clients are busy and my paperwork is done, why not make constructive use of my time. It beats gossiping or trying not to get caught playing Words With Friends like the rest of my co-workers.

So, so far I’ve filled four pages, which doesn’t sound like much, but considering how little I’ve been able to write lately, Im ecstatic. What I really need to work on tho, is getting some sort of order to my book. I havent been writing it in a linear order, which would be the logical way to do it, from start to finish. I’ve been writing it in scenes and its very scattered and I have no idea of what order the scenes go in. It’s just a hot mess right now.

The Almost Empty Nest

So I am down to one child left living at home. My 9 year old. I still have another child that’s only 15 but she lives with my ex husband. But as of April 27, my  third child is an adult. He moved out this past weekend to live with his cousin. A few days before that, my daughter, her boyfriend and their baby moved into their own apartment. And my oldest has been married and living in Texas with her husband and her children for several years now.

So the house has been very quiet and empty. Not that it’s a bad thing. Its kinda nice. We have already started putting plans for the empty rooms into action. The one my daughter was using was originally a dining room. Years ago we walled it off from the living room and hung a door in the doorway to the kitchen and used it as a bedroom, then an office for me and then a bedroom again, and back and forth a few times. This weekend we tore the wall down and took off the door and have returned it to a dining room again. We ate dinner in there Saturday night for the first time in about 5 or 6 years.

My son’s old bedroom I have claimed for my own. It is the smallest bedroom in the house and the only one located on the first floor. It’s too small to put in anything larger than a twin bed so really its too small for a proper guest room. And we don’t ever have guests overnight anyways. I used the room for my office once before when my son went to live with his father temporarily. It’s a much cozier and warmer room then the dining room, and I liked it better.

I’m looking forward to having a space of my own again. My boyfriend already moved my secretary and file cabinet and all my bookshelves in, now I just have to bring all my boxes of books up from the basement and unpack them. Which is no small task let me tall ya. I have alot of books. Oh, and my chair, which is buried in the storage room in the basement. It will be fun digging that out.

I’m hoping that now that I will have a place to go where I can shut the door and block out the noise and distractions of the house that maybe I can get back to some serious work on my book and my short stories. I always work better when I can be completely alone. Put on some music, light some incense or scented candles, pop open one of them bright blue Calypso Colada wine cooler I love so much (hey I never claimed to have any class) and I’ll be all set. Really get into the zone in a way I can’t when I’m trying to write in the living room, with people around and the tv on and all sorts of things competing for my attention.

I’m starting to get alot of anxiety surrounding my book. About not working on it. About it not being finished. About whether or not I’ll be able to get it published once it is finished. If I end up having to self publish how I’ll get it marketed so people will buy it. I’m almost 40 years old and I’ve done nothing yet as a professional writer. I just feel like the time is running out on me if I want a career as a writer. Especially with the health problems I have. I’m afraid I’m gonna die before I accomplish anything.