Rant. I have been jonesin’ for a good bookstore. Not a “rare and fine old” bookstore for collectors with money to spare, not a Christian bookstore, not a pagan bookstore, not a New Age bookstore, not a museum bookstore, not a zen bookstore… and not even a Borders. Just a REAL bookstore, with a diverse offering of brand new books, tall wooden bookshelves, a kids’ korner, a magazine section, and a shelf full of staff picks. And maybe also a used section. But still, lots of new books. Because people are still writing books! They haven’t stopped writing or being published! And how about a bookstore with a nice cafe, where you can take your purchases and read them over a cup of coffee and a danish?
Now Santa Cruz—30 miles away—has that. Logos, Bookshop SC, the Literary Guillotine, and Capitola Book Cafe. And I remember when the Hip Pocket bookstore was making waves as the first indie bookstore in that area (before the University showed up). But—south of Santa Cruz? It’s sad. Just…sad.
Don’t get me wrong—Watsonville has a great library, and Monterey County is full of excellent libraries. Even Castroville has a nice library that occasionally displays some surprising acquisitions. They try hard to fill in the gaps. But still. Sometimes you just want a book of your own. And sometimes, you wanna hang out at the bookstore, and look at all those lovely new book covers, you know? Doesn’t it give you hope to know that writers are out there still coming up with ideas for new novels, poems, and non-fiction narratives? Even in this lousey economy, they’re still trying to communicate—they are actually putting time into writing and submitting manuscripts, and getting them published.
But I’ve been looking around here, and—nothing. Salinas, Hollister, San Juan Bautista, Monterey, Carmel-by-Sea, Seaside, Marina, Soledad, Watsonville, Gonzalez, King City, Pacific Grove, for Godssake. The closest thing to a serious indie bookstore south of Santa Cruz probably for at least 150 miles is at the Henry Miller Memorial Library (and bookstore) in Big Sur, an hour and a half away from where I live. So, damn, what would we have done without Henry?! But even the Henry Miller tends to focus on beat-era and Miller-associated books. So it’s specialized and limited. Not to mention, a little inaccessible.
I know, I know, the publishing industry is changing. Yadda yadda. Everybody is buying Kindles and reading on iPads. But they’re still buying books, too — as, witness: Santa Cruz.
And some of the towns I mentioned are smallish. But Monterey–the self-professed language center of Monterey Bay, with a population of over 27,000, two military colleges, the Monterey Institute of International Policy, the “U.S.A.’s largest foreign language institute,” a community college, a major educational publisher (CTB McGraw-Hill) and a nearby state university–doesn’t have a real bricks and mortar bookstore? It’s hard to believe!
Don’t tell me there isn’t anyone with enough capital over there to start up a bookstore. One look at the cars in the Whole Foods parking lot, and you know it’s there. Apparently there just isn’t anyone in the area with capital who thinks that books are that important.
Come on, people. I’m tired of driving 30 miles for a decent bookstore.
End of rant.