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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Across from the mall

I just finished having my book signing in downtown Oklahoma City at the Full Circle Bookstore, and I thought about things outside. The bookstore is one of those wonderful places that sells books - lots of them, and that's really all they do, besides having a wonderful little coffee shop. Now this is an independent bookstore -  not part of a chain of book-vending behemoths. It sits across the highway from one of the large malls in OKC, which you can see out the door or windows. It was reasonably busy by its own standards, but if one were to look out across the road to the mall - there one could really see what busy meant.

Now, it turns out that this large mall has no bookstores in it at all. Yet at this time, less than two weeks from Christmas, it was seething with people, mostly doing their Christmas shopping. Yet none of those thousands of persons were buying books! There are numerous, and I mean NUMEROUS, places to buy clothes, accessories, audio and other high-tech devices. There are movie theaters, and innumerable restaurants. But no where in that teeming city-within-a-city could you buy a book.

All this began to make me feel really old-fashioned. As an author, and purveyor of the written word, was this turning me into a trilobite or some ossified toe bone of an antiquated carnivore? Well, not quite. For I realized something about what we are reading these days, and where we get our written material. What we are reading is turning out to be either the texting of our friends, the latest stories of whatever is currently making the news, and is available without the distraction of having to actually sit down and turn pages.

I realize that this is a lot of generalization, but the thought of sitting down, by the fireplace with a book, and getting lost in the world opening up before you, is getting to be a rarer and rarer form of pleasure. It is one pleasant diversion that I have indulged in, and has brought me numerous hours of of insight, experiences that could not be portrayed on the screen, and has brought me closer to many people whom I never had the chance to meet.

Perhaps, as a Christmas wish, you would indulge me this moment of nostalgia, and for a present just think about what pleasure a book - I mean a real book, with pages - that you can carry around, could mean to someone.

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