Bound to be Read, a great independent book store in St. Paul, is closing. The store, which carries a diverse amount of product – books, cooking supplies, games, music – was completely off of our radar until our last trip to the Cities, where we discovered a store that served as a breath of fresh air from the stuffy confines of Barnes and Noble.
However, now we can bid farewell to another independent bookstore. In a time of Wal-Mart and Barnes and Noble, people are just too indifferent to the lure of the independents, choosing the convenience of buying another copy of The Lonely Bones over the mystery of finding a similar title at a place like Bound to be Read. Independent bookstores, for the most part, hold a mystique and charm that can not be found at the “big box” stores and chains, and typically shopping at these stores helps support local business, or at least it helps support small business.
According to an article in the Star Tribune, the site of Bound to be Read will filled with an EQ-Life, which is apparently a division of Best Buy dealing with health and fitness. That could be the most depressing fact of all. The age old antiquity of books being replaced by a new fitness craze.
Independent bookstores are endangered. It seems to be a business model that will not succeed in our current television-saturated age. Who has time for books anymore? Why waste money on something that will be in theatres eventually anyway?
It’s frustrating to realize that, just as a point is being reached in my life where I’m ditching the television and spending less time on the internet in an effort to read more, everyone else is doing the opposite, throwing smaller bookstores to the side and frequenting Barnes and Noble, a store with a great variety of books but no charm, and Wal-Mart, a store with no variety of books but lots of copies of The Da Vinci code.
My solution? I will no longer buy a book at Barnes and Noble. I will frequent the smaller independent book stores. I will still browse the larger stores, but I will write the books down, run to Zandbroz, or some other little book shop, and buy it there. Or order it there. Or hop online and go to Powells.com, an independent bookstore on the web.
Seeing Bound to be Read go down like a burning library has forced me to realize that it’s not only important what I read, but where I get the books.