A big thanks to poet Nick Thran for allowing us to share this. Re-posted in its raw form, this essentially sums it up for us in so many ways:
“Dear bookish purveyors of ‘the new market realities,’ ‘the new way people receive information,’ the ‘new competition for our attention spans,’ etc, if you’ve honestly found the net, Amazon, ebooks, bargain barns et al. as adequate-to-better replacements for the indie brick-and-mortar, hey, X, I want to show you this book we got in the store, come back on your lunch break kind of social/literary transactions–congrats on your adaptiveness. I’m happy for you. I’ve been trying to figure this new reality out for a few years now too. I personally still vastly prefer the slow browse and the cover fondling and the discussions with the tellers who care deeply about things I might not yet care about better than the click and surf for what first catches my eye. I still need to sit with an actual newspaper to actually feel like I’m retaining the news. Why, in a ‘new market reality’ that has frankly done shit for our abilities’ to buy homes, keep our environment sustainable, find decent jobs with healthcare and pension plans; wouldn’t I mourn some of the last few places where it seemed eyes-on-the-spine possible to find our way into different realities and possibilities? Why wouldn’t I be pissed off that 14 people are looking for work soon, maybe in whatever economically viable, global purveyor of luxury goods that replaces the bookstore? Why wouldn’t I be a little suspicious that maybe these ‘new realities’ don’t really have my best interests in mind? Maybe instead of adapt, adapt, adapt I want to just sit beside a cash register for 30 minutes and let someone else tell me I’m a fool for not knowing anything about Thomas Bernhard, sweat forming on their brow as they gesticulate, because I sometimes need that sort of thing more than “you might also like…” in order to be convinced to hand over my twenty dollar bill. Maybe that sort of ‘competition’ makes me a more informed ‘consumer,’ and perhaps it also makes the bookseller him/herself feel a bit more like an actual human. Ok, I’m done yelling.”
Nick Thran has published two collections of poetry, Every Inadequate Name (nominated for the Gerald Lampert Award) and Earworm (Nightwood, 2011). He has been a Goldwater Teaching Fellow and MFA candidate at New York University, and is currently living in Montreal, where his wife poet Sue Sinclair was the CWILA‘s Critic-in Residence in 2013.