One of my favorite bookstores on the planet is no more. Truckee, California's Book and Bean has closed. Hung be the heavens with black.
Some years ago, my brother and sister-in-law bought a condo near Lake Tahoe so C.J. I started making regular visits to the area. A Google search revealed that there was just the one bookstore in the the greater Lake Tahoe area, Truckee's Book and Bean.
We planned a visit.
The Book and Bean was a small store, located under an upscale home furnishings place on the less traveled side of the train tracks that run through central Truckee. Though small, I prefer smallish bookstores to large ones, the Book and Bean had a wide range of second hand books along with a limited selection of new titles. On my first visit, the clerk told me, "We may not have the book you want, but we have the book you need." That summed up the Book and Bean--not a place to go if you're looking to find a particular book, but a wonderful place to go if you're willing to let a particular book find you. Just what I like in a bookstore. The Book and Bean reminded me of another favorite, Tillman Place Books in San Francisco, which used to occupy a tiny retail space in an alley off of Montgomery Street in the financial district. Tillman Place was an oasis of calm amidst the chaos and the spot where I discovered Izaak Walton's, The Complete Angler a book I never knew I wanted until I saw a copy in a bookstore, a particular book that found me.
The Book and Bean sold coffee and other drinks you could carry around the stacks while you browsed. Their soup was quite good, too. They had tables and chairs throughout the store, so you could sit among your favorite genre while you finished your lunch.
Yesterday, we had to visit my brother's condo to take the patio furniture in from the deck which is being repaired later this month. (My brother and sister-in-law are currently in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia until the first week of June.) So C.J. and I planned on visiting the Book and Bean. We got there to find what once was a book store slash coffee shop is now just a coffee shop.
We were sad.
I fear that this is going to be a very common story for the next few years. For many of us, I suspect this will be the story that sums up the second decade of the 21st century as each of our favorite bookstores close, victims to big box stores, e-readers, on-line sales and changes in publishing. Casualties of progress all.
Something new will come along to fill the void, something with more flash, something cheaper and more efficient. But you'll never convince me that a world without bookstores is a better place than a world with them used to be.
Book and Bean, I salute you.