Hope To Carry On

11 02 2011

Every summer, my family and I camp in Rocky Mountain National Park, near Estes Park CO. It is one of the few traditions we keep, and we prefer to spend the bulk of our time up in the national park to get away from the prison of our otherwise busy lives. We hike. Bike. Photograph. And enjoy the majesty of seeing Long’s Peak at every turn.

But we do have to come into town once in a while. Groceries. Beer. Wifi over at Kind Coffee. The requisite souvenir.

One of my favorite places in town is Macdonald Book Shop, conveniently located amid the other touristy places on Elkhorn Street. MBS is a relic, a survivor, a stubborn but stalwart testimony that even when caught in the tidal wave of change, it is possible to make it to tomorrow.

Even though I am an Amazon Prime member (unlimited shipping for $79/year), and have virtually every online book app available on my iPad, I look forward to getting lost amid the stacks in MBS. I love the smell of books, ink on paper, binding. I love the surprise of finding a literary gem of which I had never heard, selected by the proprietor with loving care not so much for its mass market appeal, but because the book simply resonated with her. And for some strange reason, I do not even mind paying full MSRP for a short stack of mind candy, for every time I return to those pages, I will instantly be transported back to Estes Park. Ponderosa pines. Crisp morning air. Snow-capped peaks.

Sorry. I drifted off there for a minute.

Still, all this talk of e-readers and online megastores like Amazon give many people pause about the future of the independent bookseller. Truthfully, that future is one comprised of very thin ice, but with tenacity and dogged determinism, it may very well be possible for the MBSs of this nation to make it anyway.

How so, avid reader?

Simple. By providing shoppers with the things that are not easily replicated elsewhere, it is possible to retain a sufficient clientele that can be sufficient to keep the watercraft afloat. Yes, even if it feels like shooting rapids in the wrong direction. You know. Things like service. Quirky, unique selection. Ponderosa pines.

Wait. I’m back.

Maybe it is I who is the most stubborn and doggedly determined to hang on to a piece of the past, but I sure do hope that MBS is right there on Elkhorn a good long time. Because we plan to return to EP and RMNP for many more years. And in spite of my rapidly growing digital library, I will continue to buy the books the New York Times overlooked. The histories. The social critiques. Tales of adventure. The ideas and propositions with which I might not necessarily agree, but am nonetheless open to considering anyway.

And so I resolve to cling to this vestige of a vanishing retail era, not because I am a retro-grouch, but because society still holds a place for it. It has a socially redeeming value. It just feels good. And it is.

Dr “See You In July” Gerlich




One response

11 02 2011
Jack Brown

This is quite heartening for us indie acoustic singer-songwriter types! Thanks.

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