What We Have Lost…

Gone, but not forgotten. Nothing but memories now, but what good memories they are…
I am remembering idyllic hours spent in Paul’s Book Store, in University City, a few years ago, before the big chains and franchises ran most of the independent small bookstores out of business. Before, when books stores had books and cards and calendars – not Blue-Rays, DVDs, CDs, and it was enough, more than enough, if you loved books.
Paul stocked everything worth reading. No romance novels, few best-sellers or blockbusters, but if you wanted a calendar of sumi-e brush painting, Paul’s had it. If you wanted a local poet’s chapbook, Paul’s would probably have it. Or some hard-to-find historic tome – check Paul’s first. Obscure fairy tales – you knew where to look. They had literature for recovery, women’s studies, gay/lesbian-bi-sexual/transgender – when the big chains did not handle those items, for fear they would get picketed or not make a profit.
This was a store for book lovers. Artists. Philosophers. Poets. The avante-garde. Outsiders. College students. Parents who wanted more-than-Disney books for their children to grow up on. It was a safe haven and meeting place for intellectuals.
I bought my first copy of Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones at Paul’s Books. For creative writer, Paul’s was an excellent resource, well-stocked with everything for the lover of words!
When the big chains starting putting the small independent bookstores out of business, it affected the small independent publishing houses as well. And the writers were further restricted – there were fewer vehicles to publish work that did not fit into mainstream categories. This was before the Internet was well-known to the general public.
I miss Paul, the store, the books, the cameradie. I don’t know what happened to Paul himself after the store closed. I hope it is a happy ending.

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