i read this article so you don't have to

Here's a long village voice article about disappearing local book stores. Yes, small book stores are disappearing. You know what I say to most of those departures: good riddance. I am a big fan of any quaint little bookstore (especially with a healthy stock of used books), with maybe an espresso bar thrown in for good mesaure, one that is designed to be a pleasant place to linger. Most little bookstores (around here, anyway) are decidedly not pleasant, but fusty, smelly drab looking dungeons with well intentioned but not very book smart dungeonkeepers behind the counter.

That's neither here nor there. What I wanted to mention: the article finally hits on something at the very end...

Today's field, though, may not be the future's. Superstores live and die by generous zoning, massive inventory, co-op money, and deep discounts.

The reason for the rise of big box book stores, clothing stores, hardware and home supply stores, etc is simple: the car. When our nation, over time, moved away from the walkable, cohesive neighborhood and toward the suburban development with retail centralized on quasi distant former farmland, we made a choice on multiple levels about our collective future. Every choice has consequences, and some of them don't show up for a long, long time. We're finally starting to feel a delayed after effect of this particular choice every time we fill up our gas tanks.

If we ever start moving back to a nation of communities rather than a nation of suburbs and blighted urban centers, we'll probably see some of those mom & pop businesses again (whether that's a good or bad thing will depend to some extent on how pleasant those businesses are).

Suzanne Kelly and boyfriend Keith pose in Suzanne's "Bridge Street Bookshop" in Phoenixville, PA. It's a lovely place; the kind of small bookstore you dream about... if you're a book freak that is. She's in a newly revitalized pedestrian friendly, cohesive downtown and doing quite well, thank you very much.

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