When we moved here in ’84, Metro Books was two miles up Maple Road. There was a wonderful children’s bookstore a mile in the other direction. Then Barnes & Noble moved in across the street and decimated Metro Books. I wouldn’t go in for months afterward, so ticked I was that this behemoth had stomped on our neighborhood haunt. The children’s bookstore evaporated soon after as well.
The aforementioned branch of the invading Hun of literary purveyors closed a good 18 months ago. With the total shuttering of Borders, I realized a few weeks ago that I’m living in a book desert. If I want to buy a book the non-Amazon way, I have to schlep miles west to one B&N or more miles south to the other. I borrow the term book desert from the concept of a food desert — urban areas completely devoid of grocery stores and/or supermarkets where healthful food can be purchased.
Now granted, my plight isn’t anywhere as dire as those who live in urban areas can’t even go marketing in their own neighborhood. There are more grocery stores nearby than I could shop at in a week; even the pharmacy a quarter-mile walk from here has a mini-market offering plenty to cobble together a fast meal if need be.
But I miss having a bookstore. I miss being able to walk round and round the tables of best sellers. I miss sinking into a chair and diving into a novel. I miss ordering tea and writing a card or two to friends and family while all about me other folks are reading, or clicking their tiles in a mad game of mah jongg or tutoring the occasional student.
Maybe it’s time for a new retail concept: a place to buy both books and eats. Call it Food for Body and Soul. Or maybe Authors and Artichokes. Or maybe just Metro Books, Chapter Two.