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Sign of the times

POSTED January 29, 2010 11:43 p.m.
Another sign of the Apocalypse was recorded last week when the one and only book store in Laredo, Texas — which has a population of 250,000 people — closed its doors. People in Laredo now have to drive 150 miles away to San Antonio, Texas to buy a “Twilight” book. When news of this literary nightmare reached me, I imagined a “Book of Eli” -esque scene where culture-starved Laredoians set up ambush sites for travelers in an effort to steal reading material.
Okay, so maybe it’s not the Apocalypse, but it’s still pretty bad news.
What is America coming to if a town more than triple the population size of Turlock can’t support one measly book store? Have you been to the Borders book store in Turlock lately? It is crowded with people almost all the time. CNN reported that the Laredo Barnes & Noble was making a profit, but the chain closed the store anyway due to an overall strategy to shut down their mall-based bookstores. CNN also talked to acclaimed novelist Oscar Casares, who resorted to selling his newest books, “Brownsville and “Amigoland,” inside a Laredo grocery store. Casares told CNN that it took awhile to get used to doing book signings and readings in the middle of a bustling grocery store.
I only know of one local author who has resorted to the check out aisle to hawk his book. Thankfully, the Turlock Borders is very supportive of area authors. They often have special displays and book signings for authors from the Central Valley.
I know that book stores are not the only suppliers of knowledge through the written word. And CNN reported that the Laredo libraries were doing a booming business. But there’s something special about owning a book. When you purchase a book, you aren’t only gaining the knowledge within, but supporting the continuance of writing as a profession.
While artists of all mediums strive to work for love of their craft alone, it’s hard to pay the rent or buy food with good intentions. And without a means for writers to continue their work, they will soon pick up a hammer or calculator and leave all creative endeavors to their dreams.
Future generations of writers could be lost due to the inability to get paid for their work. I shudder to think of what will pass as literature if the only ones writing are bored billionaires and mystery hobbyists.
Readers across the nation need to ban together and save our society from such a fate. The fight begins in Texas. I implore all book store owners to seriously consider moving to Laredo.
To avoid a similar fate happening in Turlock, I urge readers of all ages to patronize our local Borders book store. If purchasing full-priced books does not fit into your current budget, consider stopping by the Friends of the Turlock Library book sale today at the First United Methodist Church on the corner of Arbor and Berkeley. A wide range of budget-friendly used books are available for purchase for around $1 each.
To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail khacker@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.
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