Reality Skimming

The Death of the Traditional Bookstore by Steve Vernon

Steve VernonSteve Vernon learned the storytelling tradition from his grandfather. As part of the Writers in the School program of Nova Scotia he continues to teach this tradition to school children across Canada. His books include The Lunenburg Werewolf, Haunted Harbours, Wicked Woods, Halifax Haunts, the children’s picture book Maritime Monsters and his latest release Maritime Murder: Deadly Crimes From the Buried Past (Nimbus Publishing 2012). Each of these books can be found in traditional bookstores across Canada – and if they aren’t there you can order them.

Dinosaurs, Dodo Birds and the Death of the Traditional Neighborhood Bookstore

I am not a Luddite.

And yet I mourn deeply whenever I hear of another bookstore closing.

Only last week I read of the closing of Vancouver’s oldest used bookstore – the ABC Book & Comic Emporium.

I grieved for that store – even though I had NEVER set foot in it.

I likewise grieved for the closing of Halifax’s Back Pages – after thirty-two years in the book business.

How about Toronto’s Flying Dragon Bookshop? – now dead and gone just last year.

I also still remember when Halifax lost The Book Room – Canada’s oldest bookstore – back in 2008.

I likewise regret the loss of Frog Hollow Books in 2009.

Each of these memories stand like a row of lonely tombstones in my creative heart. It was like losing a close friend and I still mourn the loss of each of these stores. I know, I am a cornball – but something is gone.

Something precious - that cannot be replaced.

And yet I am not a Luddite.

Many of my books are published in e-book format. I likewise have self-published several other e-books – and fully intend to continue doing so. The e-book revolution is here and I will not sit upon the shore – like old King Canute – and let the tide piddle about toes, kneecaps, hips, thighs and nostrils until I bubble under staunchly denying the concept of death-by-drowning.

E-books are here – and there is nothing wrong with them. My fifty year old eyes yearn for their marvelous adjustable fonts. My creaking bookshelves heave metaphorical sighs of relief at the concept of storing hundreds of books in a package the size and weight of a pocket calculator

E-books are cool.

But I wonder why we – the human readership of the twenty-first century – cannot find it in our hearts to embrace both the e-book and the traditionally published book.

I still do. I am what is called a hybrid writer – in that I still write for both traditional publisher as well as writing for the digital market. In fact, my primary publisher – Nimbus Publishing – has a direct pipeline to the Kobo network, and all of my latest releases are scheduled to show up in digital format.

But I still mourn for the loss of the neighborhood bookstore.

I likewise grieve the recent Indigo/Chapters catalogue – with every second page being dedicated to towels and teacups and martini pitchers and blankets and booties and buggy whips.

Okay, so I lied about the buggy whips.

All that I want to tell you is that a page is turning in history. Every day one more quiet monument to the love of books is falling. Every day they put up hair salons and coffee shops and cell phone outlets where bookstores once stood.

Don’t let this happen.

Not just yet.

As I have said twice before – I am not a Luddite.

I am a book-a-holic.

I cannot walk into a bookstore without purchasing a book.

It is as impossible as slowing the tide.

Please, catch this addiction from me.

Make it a weekly habit.

Go to your favorite bookstore and buy an honest-to-Guttenburg book.

Before that page finally turns.

Steve – (as well as talented Canadian author Colleen Anderson) - is also co-editor for Tesseracts 17 – an important Canadian speculative fiction collection that will be released in both traditional and digital format.

For those folks who aren’t total Luddites you can likewise grab a free digital copy of the first episode of Flash Virus - Steve Vernon’s young adult novel that tells the story of the end of the world as witnessed by a teenager.

Steve is currently late for a book signing at a local Chapters outlet – where he will signing traditionally published and printed by-god trade paperbacks.

Go and buy one now!

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