Now, we all like to save money. More and more, we need to save money. But low cost is not the only value worth preserving. Accepting that it is has caused the collapse of manufacturing in this country and the narrowing of retail options. An economic death spiral, in other words. So it's good to see Doig point out the value bookstores bring to the community.
Of course, as some will say, "communi-wha?" There are lots of places where his argument will fall on deaf ears.
Like farmers’ markets, bookstores are an example of what urbanists refer to as “third places” — places that usually exist to sell something but that also contribute to a city’s public realm, like coffee shops. “In this way, ‘literary culture’ may also translate to ‘urban culture,’ and the appreciation urban residents have for the inherent qualities of urban life,” says Mike Lydon, principal of the Street Plans Collaborative, an urban planning firm. “One might describe Amazon as the fast, cheap, standard, virtual suburban big-box model, while the indie bookstore is the urbane alternative that is seemingly rising alongside the rediscovery of America’s urban neighborhoods.” He may be right: after a long decline, the number of independent bookstores stabilized in the last few years and has even ticked slightly upward, according to the American Booksellers Association.
Not everybody sees the need for "third places" because not everyone is invested in there being a public realm. For a lot of suburbanites, exurbanites, and people who want to be as such, life is home, car, work. The idea of spending time in a place you don't own in order to soak up some kind of cultural aura is alien to them. Which is why nihilistic pundits will always find a willing ear. (And a paycheck, but that's a different story.)