I'm a long-lapsed Catholic, but it still felt right to call my purchasing of a book in the wonderful Paulina Springs Books a penance.
That's what I said to my wife after we met up again in charming Sisters, Oregon. Laurel had returned from her clothes shopping safari, and me from a bookstore exploration. (We do this a lot, having different material desires.)
I showed her my big, thick, intellectually meaty/tofuy copy of David Deutsch's "The Beginning of Infinity." I knew I was going to buy this book almost as soon as I read the subtitle: Explanations That Transform the World
I love reading about modern science. I love scientific explanations. I love being transformed. So for the relatively small sum of $30 (the book is hard cover), I'd brought home a lover! Conveniently, one which my wife had no problem driving home with.
Leaving Sisters, I told Laurel how much I liked going into a physical bookstore filled with old-fashioned paper books, where the staff had affixed cards containing personal reviews to some of their favorite titles, appealingly printed out in a typewriter'ish font.
Handing over my credit card, the Paulina Springs Books woman behind the counter added another "like" when I mentioned the cards. "Every book in our store is here because one of us chose to order it; we don't have a central buying service in New York City."
No, they wouldn't. Because Paulina Springs Books only has one other store, in nearby Redmond.
I buy lots of books from Amazon. Lots. In my home town, Salem, there aren't any genuine independent bookstores. Jackson's Books, sadly, went out of business quite a few years ago. People like me are responsible for that.
Hence, my penance.
Every time we pass through Sisters I go into Paulina Springs Books. Almost always I buy something. I find books there that I never would have known about without being able to see them, touch them, hold them, leaf through them.
Yes, I appreciate how skillful Amazon is at saying, "Since you liked X, may we suggest Y?" Quite often their introduction results in a book marriage, me falling in love with another literary object of desire.
But I'm old-fashioned. Not to mention, old. (Though sixty-two no longer strikes me as the Super Geezer age that it used to denote to my younger mind.)
I told the Paulina Springs Books woman that I never want my four year old granddaughter to say, "What was a bookstore like, Grandpa?" And for the moment I'm deeply attached to being able to hold paper pages in my hand, highlight the words on those pages with a marker, and stick scraps of paper in pages where I want to remember where an important thought is.
Paulina Springs Books is wisely attempting to marry the two -- books and electronic devices. For the first time, I noticed on the bookmark that was stuck in the book: "Think Local when shopping online! www.paulinasprings.com for your eBooks and online ordering."
Excellent idea. The bookstore has partnered with Google to sell Google eBooks. I don't know much about Google eBooks, as I don't have an electronic book reader other than my computer and iPhone, and they aren't pleasant ways to read a book.
But if I ever get an iPad, or whatever, for ebook reading, I'll do my best to send my business to Paulina Springs Books. I searched for an electronic version of the book I just bought and found that it was half the cost of the $30 hardcover I've started to read.
If I learned to highlight via an eReader, I could buy twice as many books!
Anyway, be sure to visit Paulina Springs Books if you're in Sisters or Redmond. Sisters is one of our favorite places, as friendly as its name.