I just finished reading a book on bookstores. A very good read. In a random search online I found that in Goodreads there are 113 books about bookstores. Books in printed, bound, actual solid form you can hold in your hand, display on your shelf, and perhaps smell the crisp fresh print are still around today. But increasingly readers prefer e-books and other digital forms which are easy to carry around. For those who are used to looking and scrolling at a screen rather than turning the paper pages, printed books are like dinosaurs. “The art of reading is slowly dying and it is an intimate ritual, that a book is a mirror that offer us only what we already carry inside us, that when we read, we do it with our heart and mind, and great readers are becoming more scarce by the day.” (Quoted from The Shadow of The Wind) For that matter, physical bookstores are becoming rare in some parts of the world. Someone told me that their local bookstore has closed down. I used to dream of having my own bookstore. A place to display all my favorite books. Resting. Reading. Reflecting on lives. Romance. Reconciliation. Refreshment. Relax. Restoration of the soul. There are so many good things about a bookstore. We meet our friends there. We treasure hunt for good books together. We laugh at the funny books. We shed tears with the sad books. We drink freshly brew coffee. We smile and nod at each other. We have put our hard and cold world outside the door and enter with pure simplicity of the joy and comfort the world of book offers generously. But I never open a bookstore. Why? Maybe I am too young for the “be still”life. Maybe I am waiting for another bookstore-dreamer to invite me into their dream. Maybe I am just unwilling to face the increasingly tough challenges to encourage people to become readers and readers of e-books or audio books to return to the good old bricks-and-mortar bookstore that sells printed books, faithfully standing and waiting at the street corner for a physical human to enter its door. What has age got to do with this venture? Someone may ask since I mentioned age. Well, when I grow old enough I shall not care whether the books sell or not or whether I have clients. I shall treat the bookstore as a home to grow old in. I shall not be alone, surrounded by faithful old friends-books. I do wonder if by then anyone who can still read printed books remains. But it would not matter to me. An ancient sage said, “Only if you are a fish you know how a fish thinks.” Only a printed book-reader knows the joy and pain of reading a printed book. Of course I shall continue to open the door and invite you to come in and have a cup of coffee, rest awhile at our reading-corner, whether you are a reader or not. (Isn’t this online blog a little reading-corner? Pity I cannot serve coffee online. You cannot see our smile and nod. See the limitation between buying e-book and a print book?)
note: Printed books are being sold and bought online too. I personally still prefer to browse the printed books which I can touch and pages can be turned by hand.