Wednesday, July 02, 2008
Many thanks to Jenny for letting me know that the city of Long Beach is going to bulldoze Acres of Books to make way for yet another stupid shopping mall. Acres of Books is the largest used book store in California, and is one of the largest in the world. I've gotten dozens of hard-to-find books there, books I'd never have known about if I hadn't seen them on the shelf at Acres. I can't believe Long Beach could have let this treasure slip through their hands!
Used book stores are completely disappearing from American cities and the few that remain tend to favor the better quality books, the ones that have their original covers. That's a shame because some of the best and most hard to find old books survive only in coverless editions, and the lack of covers made the rare books affordable.
I'm always shocked when I hear people say, "You can find anything on the internet." No you can't! That's ridiculous! What you find on the internet is what the mass culture puts there. Not much that's select and special. The other day I searched for Rube Goldberg and found very,very little, and part of that was what I put up myself. Goldberg is one of the most original cartoonists ever, but you'd never know it from the net. When I wrote the blog about Blackstone I tried to look up something that would explain the theory of monarchy to me. No way. Look up monarchy and you'll turn up a lot of drivel about Princess Di. I could name dozens of examples like that!
Even libraries aren't very good at preserving the past. They have to make room for the latest best sellers. Used bookstores are vital custodians of the past, and their passing is a national catastrophe. Hooray for Ray Bradbury who took the trouble to try to do something about it!
Posted by Eddie Fitzgerald at 2:09 AM