A recent visit to Chestnut Hill Mall (sorry – the “Mall at Chestnut Hill”) for dinner with the kids at the newly relocated (and rather mediocre) Cheesecake Factory, revealed that the Barnes and Noble bookstore we usually visit across route 9 had shuttered its doors. Zounds!
I have bookstore options in Harvard Square, where I often find myself, but my wife would frequently bring our offspring (is one allowed to say “offspring” on the internet?) to this bookseller, and she tells me it’s a major loss. Now where will the kids go to browse physical (you heard me, physical!) books and make a purchase? I love Brookline Booksmith, but getting there involves far more traffic and parking hassles than the old B&N in our midst. And, though we avail ourselves of libraries, the Boston Public Library is holding my wife’s card hostage because – get this – they tell us she failed to return a book but they can’t tell us its name. We owe something like $40 on this book, which could probably be found on Amazon for $4.99 if the BPL could just tell us what book they are missing. Amazingly, not knowing what book we are meant to return doesn’t absolve us from having to return it. Thus, we’re in a stalemate, meaning we have to use our 8 year old son’s card.
I have no particular love of big chain stores of any sort, but having somewhere to browse through aisles and bins of actual books (which is to say not Amazon), one or two (or ten) of which you’re going to bring home to keep or pass along to a friend, is such a delicious treat that the closing of yet another of these ever-diminishing retailers is a painful loss. One of my most pleasant memories from last summer was visiting the independent bookseller RJ Julia in Guilford, CT. I think I’ll buy a book this week at the independent Harvard Book Store (a store, it's worth noting, that miraculously was able to snag the url "harvard.com"), for no reason other than that I still can. Who knows how much longer that place will last?
So now my spouse and the fruit of our loins (can one say “fruit of our loins” on the internet?) intend to learn what this whole New England Mobile Book Fair is about, out there on Needham Street in Newton. Perhaps a previously-unseen gem in our midst that the kids will love.