First, let me apologise to everyone who reads my blog for the prolonged lack or posts or anything. I was kind of busy trying to study for my exams and procrastinated on posting stuff. But, now I’m here, with only two tests left to go, so I’ve got enough time to talk.
If any of you have read Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal, you will notice that the post office and the Library of the Unseen University have something in common: magic is in the air. Well, its actually in the books, and more specifically, in the words. Literal magic. In the post office, the hundreds of tons of mail causes magical illusions, in the Unseen University, it causes rifts in space.
But to get back to my main topic, because that wasn’t my point.
In our world, we have those kind of places too. No, not the post offices. But yes to the libraries, and to bookstores. In this case, second hand bookstores. Those two buildings have a special magic around them. Who knows what you’ll learn? Or what you’ll find? A book to complete your collection of the Hardy Boys? A century old copy of Well’s the Time Machine? If you’re really lucky, maybe you’ll even find undiscovered sections of the Voynich Manuscript.
Libraries. If you live in a town that is on a map, there is a good chance you have one of these in your community, even if it’s smaller than a studio apartment. It’s more than just another opportunity to read books. It’s a place where like minds gather for different activities, whether they be reading, or learning about Alfred the Great, or looking for dinosaur bones in the basement; there’s many opportunities for excitement in libraries, some hosted by the library itself! Contrary to popular belief, librarians don’t just check out books and make hushing noises at you. They’re humans too! (My apologies to any librarians reading this).
Secondhand bookstores contain the same amount of magic, but different types. You never know what to expect in one of them. Also, I find that there is something that can only be described as magical in an old, worn book. It’s a combination of the smell of the pages, the frailty of the body, and the feel of having been passed through numerous hands that make it so appealing. It’s like saying that you are not alone in your love for that book.
There’s been an argument that has been going back and forth for a while now. Which is better, a paperback that you can hold, or an electronic book? The argument goes both ways. With ebooks, you can easily store all of your books in a personal library, where they’re forever accessible and one tap away. However, with books, you don’t have to worry about battery and all the stuff that technology complicates, including the fact that there’s a higher chance of someone stealing your tablet than there is your book. My own opinion is just as unaligned. While I do love reading paperback, I sell ebooks, which gives me a somewhat better understanding of the market. It has been good, allowing self publishers into the market more easily. There have been people who have predicted the rise and decline of both paperbacks and ebooks, but I think that it is still too early to say. If you are interested in this subject, you can find an interesting article from the Guardian here.
That topic aside, I believe that secondhand bookstores, and more importantly, libraries, are not yet a thing of the past. They are important more that just for reading, but to a degree, for social activity, and for a growing community.
Now I must ask you to get off your device and find the nearest library, and not one Amazon provides. A physical building.