On trips to the bookstore or the library, my mother would release us, my brother and I, like a Pirate Captain telling her crew to find lost treasure on an island.
We would move into the stacks or towards the shelves of fiction in something just short of a run and then spend what seemed hours hunting for one or two special books. Looking at the covers, reading the first pages, where characters and stories waited for us. I read a variety of things as a kid. Science Fiction, fantasy, contemporary works, history and even dove into the world of hotrods and automobile building. All of these were treasure waiting to be found and the shelves and stacks of bookstores and libraries were where you could find it.
Now is a new digital age of publishing which has created more access for more writers than ever before and, as a result, created a very crowded market that is much more difficult to search through. Heck, it can be overwhelming at times for readers. So how do we make finding new books to read in a digital age as fun and as magical as it used to be.
What got me thinking about this were a series of wonderful photos of the interior of grand libraries and beautiful bookstores in town villages around the world.
As I pondered these photos, I began to fret about the future of libraries and bookstores, but then I thought about in more deeply and came to the conclusion that the age of the library and bookstore are far from over. They remain important place for adventure seekers just as I was as a child and I will continue to support these institutions. What I love about these stores, especially the independents like Sundance Books in Reno, NV., R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison, CT., and Word After Word in Truckee, Calif., is that they are selective and they can help you find something really special. They’ve already been out in the wild ocean of publishing and found the works that speak to them and want to share or that they know people will want to see and read.
But how do you, as a reader venture out into the ocean yourself and find something new, like my own books? I do like running searches on Amazon. I do like typing up searches on google for a books on a subject or idea to see what pops. It can be daunting, though. But I admit, I miss that excitement of hunting through the stacks to find that great book. It’s not the same.
But then I realized, it shouldn’t be. Heading into a bookstore and library is a real adventure. Like Tolkien said, all adventures start by leaving your house. Well, the digital search is different. It’s more akin to fishing. You’re casting a line or net and seeing what you can catch with it. I look at the digital search as more of like a gift you give yourself. And I do like to get books as gifts. My brother-in-law sent me a wonderful collection of short stories by William Trevor. I don’t often read short stories, but I loved this collection and it opened my world up.
So maybe that’s how we go forward. Hunt for treasure on our islands of libraries and bookstores and go fishing in the wide digital sea. And just like when you go fishing, sometimes you’re going to bring in ones that you gotta throw back and sometimes you’re going to get a keeper and, no matter what, I hope you find some great stories.
Thanks for reading!