One Way or Another…
This morning I happened across a thoughtful article about the demise of the local bookstore, in Wyoming and Washington, from Wyofile. Author bemoans the closing of several small-town Wyoming bookstores, and mentions some of the remaining independents in the state – a useful guide for us road-trippers.
It got me thinking about how the bookselling landscape has changed since I started my career in the eighties. I don’t think people will ever stop reading books. Stories will always matter, but they take many different forms, as do the shops and forums where we find them.
I began with my own used and rare bookstore in Allentown, PA, which I sold when I moved West in the early nineties. It finally closed last year. I’m proud that it lasted so long under the guidance of its latest owner, John Furphy, who continues to keep the literary spirit alive on his Facebook page.
Then I managed an independent bookstore at the Whitehall Mall, the wonderful Allentown Bookshop. That died when the mall wouldn’t renew our lease and replaced us with a more lucrative chain bookstore. We tried to move the store, but it didn’t survive the change.
As an independent bookseller, I’d long bemoaned the rise of the chains, but since I couldn’t beat ’em I had to join ’em, and I moved on to Waldenbooks in Billings, Montana, and from there to Barnes & Noble, where I worked for 15 years, finally ending up as store manager in Cheyenne.
Now I write books, and find myself selling more through Walmart and Amazon than through bookstores.
But some things haven’t changed. Readers still buy books, supporting the authors who do their best to tell stories that warm hearts and change minds. I’ve read that teens read more than ever, so the future of the book is assured, albeit in some new forms.
Stories have been with us since the dawn of time, and they’ll be with us to the end — in one form or another. I feel fortunate to have been a part of the business of storytelling in so many ways. It’s been my life, and will continue to be for years to come.
Today, I’m looking out at the foggy Stillwater landscape and editing my newest book, How to Wrangle a Cowboy. My big dog Jesse lies at my feet, and the little birds are braving the freezing mist to visit my feeders outside my window.
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