Auld Lang Syne

Monday, July 25, 2011

Coffee shops and bookstores

It is a well-established tradition (hmmm, how long?) that bookstores and coffee shops co-exist. I've always wanted to own/operate one. I got smarter and decided a while ago that I just want to go to them. Kinda like my B & B fantasy. At any rate, we have a BS/CS entity here in Rockland that has long been an anchor in the community, a place of good food (except for the plethora of chick peas ... I ask WHY?) and of reading and writing. Now it has closed for a week to move to a new location (one door down from current location). I will be heading over there later today to help out. What I want to say here is this: we need to support Indie Bookstores and their partner coffee shops. Borders is apparently closing and selling itself to the lowest bidders (liquidations sales). Who knows about Barnes & Noble. But really? How warm are they? Do they know your reading preferences or how you like your coffee? Do they know in advance you will pick chips over chickpea salad offerings? I think not.

My favorite indie bookstore is Prairie Lights in Iowa City. They have the BEST poetry selections I have ever seen. They will do online orders. They have a great coffee area upstairs with tables you can inhabit for hours at a time (have done this). During the summer, they broadcast author readings live on NPR (we worry about them too with the current trend against funding arts).

And when I am in Vermont I go to Bear Pond Books. This is a great spot too, although they do not have coffee or tables and chairs for writing. They are fiercely protective of our reading privacy. When the government was thinking of invading the book industry to track our reading preferences, BPB kept NO records of our purchases to have NOTHING for them to track. Gotta love that.

But I don't live in Iowa or Vermont. I live here in Maine. I have hello hello books and Rock City Cafe. Now this is no sacrifice. I don't mean to sound as if I am "settling" or taking sloppy seconds. Not at all. I am pleased to go there, to spend writing time there, to buy books, trade in books, meet with friends over coffee and tri-berry pie. I love the soups and sandwiches there. It is a destination. It is my place.

So, wherever you are, go into your local bookstore and inhale the atmosphere. Thank the owners and workers for being there, for fighting the good fight for literacy and intelligence. BUY books. READ voraciously so you need to buy more books. DONATE books to school libraries.

Have a latte today and think of Rock City and hello, hello books. They will be open next week for our next adventure in reading and sipping.

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