Bookshop Offers Personal Touch for Customers
When the news broke that The Pilot had bought The Country Bookshop, my little heart beat with joy.
But some people have asked if this is not feeding a dying business model and why should we have a bookstore what with Amazon, Kindles and the like.
I will leave aside my predilection for saying things that speak to my youth and upbringing and simply ask you if when you went to your first restaurant, did you cease to cook at home? I think that bookstores are not only a part of who we have been, but like home cooking, bookstores feed us in ways that we can’t get from literary restaurants like Amazon or Kindle or even Barnes and Noble.
When I look at Amazon, as I do for DVDs, they have carefully tracked my buying habits and refer me to “if you like that you will love this.” Now it is spooky enough that they track me so much, but the thing I have noticed is that they do not lead me to something that might interest another side of me or challenge me.
Why? Because they don’t talk to me, live where I live or have the ability to share a new discovery that may spring from the “clay beneath my feet.” In short, they are very good at duplicating my buying habits but not so good at leading me in new directions. That is what people who love books and work in good bookstores do so well.
Of course there is a place for libraries and Kindles, just as it is not a crime to share a book with a friend. But how do I meet the authors or hear of something quite wonderful but perhaps off my beaten path?
The folks at The Country Bookshop do that for me. And I add my two cents when I read or hear about something wonderful that they might not have read. It is a living interaction. And we need these things in our towns to keep us alive, connected and vital. If we do everything by computer, we will all live in little houses out of which we never go, and that would hardly be a swell world.
The charm of an independently owned bookstore was one of the draws for my husband and me when we were on our “voyage of discovery” looking at more than 28 towns and burgs. When we were visiting Southern Pines and Pinehurst, the joy of finding The Country Bookshop was one of the deciding factors.
Our town in Connecticut had lost its wonderful bookshop to a development of a new shopping area. Our small town hardware store survived Home Depot, but the bookstore could not survive Barnes and Noble. We got a much larger but colder shop in the trade. Sure it has a coffee cafe, but go ask someone about a book. If they care, they might spare a moment, but their real job is to stock shelves and keep a big store moving. They simply don’t want to chat about a great read.
Kay and all the staff I have met over the last two years have welcomed me with a smile, introduced me to a number of authors, both through books and in the flesh, that I might never have read. They give you a smile and a hug, and they all care about our school children and the quality of life here. The Kindle app on my 3G phone doesn’t seem to have that feature.
So, why should we be glad they are here and going to grow and change within this new partnership (thank you, David Woronoff!)? Because everyone who walks in the door is a real person who will be met and guided by real people.
The touch of a book in your hand cannot be equaled, though there is a place for electronic books. We may not need to own every book printed, but there are always those that line our hearts as surely as they line our shelves.
Get to know The Country Bookshop — if you haven’t already — and join me in watching how they grow to become even more relevant to our lives here in the Sandhills.
Go. Buy a book. It is the cheapest form of travel there is.
Joyce Reehling lives in Pinehurst. She recently retired here from New York after a 35-year career in theater, TV and commercials.
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