I was at a Barnes & Noble bookstore recently. I stopped by their coffee shop where they serve Starbucks coffee. The coffee shop looks strikingly like Starbucks yet the servers are quick to tell you that it’s “Barnes & Noble coffee shop” and they just serve Starbucks. Ok.
Anyway, that’s not the point of this article. The point is to ask you my friends…do you still read books? I mean do you read real books, magazines, newspapers? I’m not talking about the internet or e-books on your tablet, I’m talking about real physical, touchable books.
Because if you don’t or have stopped reading “real” books, you are not alone. I have to admit, I’m with you. I haven’t read a real book in years. I’ve even stopped reading magazines.
I know what you’re thinking. You say…”Goddamit, I’m tired of people like you saying the internet is not real!” Oh no friend, I’m not saying that. The internet IS real! That is, until your battery or power supply run out 😊
Anyway yeah, so recently when I found myself with a little time to kill, I stepped into Barnes & Noble, got my coffee and sat down with a couple of magazines and books. Wow, I was transported back in time.
In the early 1990s to the mid 2000s, that was my ritual and I loved it. There was nothing I looked forward to more than getting my coffee (hot or iced, didn’t matter) and hanging out in the bookstore for hours.
The first thing I would do was to check the photography magazines for the latest equipment reviews. Sure I knew the majority of the reviews were veiled marketing schemes but it didn’t matter. I loved seeing and reading about the gear.
Next I would move on to the book section. Here I would dive into books with photos from famous and not so famous photographers. Street, nature, art, it didn’t matter. If it was good, I loved it. I could appreciate it. I found inspiration in seeing the photos, especially in large or coffee table sized books.
Somewhere in the mid 2000s this ritual ended. The internet was now my main source of reading and information. Sure, I’d stop by Barnes & Noble for a quick glance every now and then, but the magic was no longer there. I was pretty much in and out in minutes. The internet had given me all I needed and more.
But the other day when I had the chance to sit down for while with these books and magazines, I felt that magic once more. As I sipped my coffee, I said to myself what a shame it would be if this store closed down.
I give Barnes & Noble credit for surving as long as they have in the modern world of Amazon. I also give them credit for allowing us to just hang out there and browse. Back in the day that wasn’t always the policy with many stores. But it works for them too because the longer you’re there, the more likely you may, and I stress may just buy something from them.
I know they closed down many stores and have had to resort to selling all sort of odd items, but they are keeping real books and magazines alive, despite struggling to do so.
It’s a bittersweet thing I know; the less books we have, the more trees we save. I get it. I’m all for saving the environment. But I think we can compromise somewhere. Real physical books are a good thing, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Anyway, I have to admit that I’m just as guilty as many of you when it comes to the fact that I haven’t bought a book or magazine in ages. I’m guilty of going to the store and just browsing. I do buy their coffee as a way of paying the price of admission just like you buy something to use the bathroom in a store 🙂
But it’s not enough I know. So this weekend, I did leave Barnes & Noble with a book and a couple of magazines. I don’t want to preach to you so I’ll ask you to try this, especially you photo bugs…go into that bookstore, buy your coffee and grab a couple of good reads.
If you feel the magic, support your local bookstore whether it’s Barnes or anybody else. If you don’t buy their books, then buy their coffee, buy their calendars, buy their trinkets. Buy their Nooks (the old Barnes & Noble tablet). Heck, buy their crannies too! 😊
Whatever you can do to keep these awesome places alive!
PS: I must say it was sad not to see Popular Photography on the stands anymore. Truly the end of an era.