Nicholas Hoare Bookstore to Close Up Shop

Books and KindleA chapter in my life is closing. Nicholas Hoare , an independent bookstore where I worked during my university days, recently announced that it will be taking down its shingle in April. As a booklover, I’m sad to see one of Montreal’s last small bookshops go, taking with it the charm and personal service that the big chains just can’t match. The news also reminds me that bookstores—and even physical books—might someday disappear.

And with them will go a way of living.

For me, books are the warmth of overflowing shelves from floor to ceiling, urging me to explore, escape, or get informed. The sound of a page turning. The subtle crack of the grain breaking as I fold down the corner of a page—sorry! The smell of paper, sometimes musty, sometimes fresh with glue. The mystery of margin notes and photographs. The thrill of browsing the stacks and randomly selecting a book based solely on its spine.

Now there are new thrills. E-books mean shopping for a good read at 3 a.m. Thinking about a book and whammo—30 seconds later it’s in my hands. Being fickle about what to read on the metro without having to be a pack mule.

But in my world, the e-book hasn’t replaced the book-book. Maybe I’m still too attached to the volumes that line my walls, but for me, the e-book is for reading, not savouring. I use it for books that I don’t need to see on my shelves, books that don’t need to lie open for months at a time on my desk, books that are, well, trashy. I still buy books in their physical form when I want to re-read them.

That might be changing, though. I used to buy all of my reference materials as physical books because I knew I’d use them again and again. Now I subscribe to online dictionaries and style guides so that I can stay up to the minute on any changes in language. My giant war horses seem more like relics now, forever stuck in a single moment in time.

For the time being, it seems, I’m half e-book, half book-book. So as Nicholas Hoare’s story comes to a close on Greene Avenue, I mourn the loss. And yet I can’t recall the last time I bought a book there.

 

What about you, are you e-book or old school?

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