We pulled into the overcrowded parking lot just before eleven and made our way across it, small, harmless patches of snow scattered towards the store like bread crumbs, leading the way to paradise. We, my dad, grandmother, and I, were visiting the bookstore for perhaps the last time. They, more than I, know the history of the place, for they have been coming here for years, but when I heard the news, that horrible news that the Booksellers at Laurelwood would be shutting their doors for the final time next month, it saddened me. For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved books, which led to a love of bookstores, places I visit at least once a month, but perhaps now I’m part of the problem. On my frequent visits to booksellers, I rarely purchase books unless armed with a gift card, given to me for my birthday or christmas, or on the rare occasion that I find a hidden gem in the bargain section.
I read a lot, and thus buy books pretty frequently, but unfortunately my habit couldn’t be sustained if I made all my purchases in the glorious bookstores. I wander through the aisles, allowing the aesthetics of book spines to grab me, entice me to pick up a book and read the back cover. If it interests me, I check the price out of habit, knowing deep down that it’s more than what I’m willing or able to pay for a single book, fifteen dollars for something I’ll enjoy for a couple of days before I’m in need of another. The internet and online shopping are killing the places I love, yet it’s fueling my habit. I make note of the book and when I get home I add it to my Amazon wish list, where I will eventually purchase a used copy for a quarter of the price. And so it goes, I visit bookstores for suggestions, recommendations, but rarely do I make actual purchases, and the closing of yet another store shows me that I’m not alone.
There are a lot of people milling around Laurelwood, more than I’ve seen at any given time in my past visits to the store, the unfortunate irony of the situation apparent. If the people here now, made a point of visiting their beloved bookstore more often, then it would thrive, but now that it’s fate is looming, the masses flock to it, wallowing in nostalgia, trying to soak up these last moments before their bookstore is gone forever. I browse the section of used books, finding a few titles that interest me, but even with the going out of business sale, the prices are still higher than what I could get online. For christmas this year I received both a gift card to a bookstore and an Amazon gift card, each worth twenty-five dollars. At the bookstore I bought one book, and ordered two, used, off of their website. The gift card covered all but a couple of dollars. With the Amazon card I bought six books, paid for shipping, and still had a little money left over. I am undeniably part of the problem, but I’m obviously not alone in my shopping preferences. Book stores are wonderful, fantastic, glorious places, but it just doesn’t make sense to shop there. To the Booksellers at Laurelwood and to all bookstores like it, I am sorry it has to be this way, but you will always hold a special place in my heart.