Independent Bookstores and the Rise of the Zombie

By | on February 3, 2012 | 0 Comment

Here’s an apocalyptic vision for you: Imagine a world without independent bookstores. Think of all the money consumers would save if they didn’t have an independent literary culture in their neighborhood! What would we be giving up…should we care? The loss of a store space where we could get a decent cup of coffee while we waste our time browsing magazines that we don’t intend to buy? Even that time-waster might be rendered passe as mag reading catches on by electronic tablet. But don’t even count on that. Most of the people I see on the train with hand-helds are playing some sort of dumb game like tic-tack-toe or find-the-rabbit.

I’ll be candid with you, it pissed me off when I got the impression that indie bookstores are confined to the more affluent zip codes. But then I thought that wasn’t the whole story. The presence of large numbers of college students helps. Although I don’t understand why high school students wouldn’t help as much. I figure they are under-serviced.

Kids are brought to indie bookstores by their parents. But do you stop reading when you get to high school and then start up again if you go to college? Hire a high school part-timer and have them start a book club just for teens. When parents hear that their teenager has to be at the local indie for their book club meeting, they will be overjoyed.

And what about the students who are not going on to college? Does that mean they are not allowed to read? Listen up, in our world, you must never stop being a student. So, if you want, you can learn all about a new video game, or you can be absorbed by the latest dumb-ass reality show. Or you could splay yourself down on the open carpet of literature at an indie bookstore. So cheer up if you miss the old school. High school is forever!

How much can you cut yourself off from…until there is nothing left to cut yourself off from. My computer is a great tool. I’m writing on it now. But I’m going to kick myself in my own ass if all I do all day is chores and go online. Downton Abbey (which I watch online) can wait.

If you keep supporting ilife to the detriment of real life then someday you will try to visit real life and it won’t be there.

Discover an indie bookstore you can get to, in a neighborhood you like, and sign up for their email newsletter. Then attend some of their events. It’s the event tie-in that makes you a sophisticated reader.

What we’re up against is Alphaville, the deconstruction of the human which can’t be accomplished unless our everyday literary culture is dismantled first. That’s a world where no one can ask why only because. Where there can be no rebellion and words are systematically banned from the dictionary because they would encourage independent ideas.

Goddard says that sometimes reality is too complex to be expressed except in legend. In that spirit, I’m expressing my concern that the rise of the zombie in your community is a mortal threat to indie bookstores. So if you spot them in the neighborhood of your store or your stories, maybe you should consider some kind of security measure. Of course, Lemmy Caution (in Alphaville) would just plug them.

On the other hand, for the sake of attracting the kids into your store, maybe you should hire one zombie as a part-timer, just for the weekends.


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