The vast majority of people throughout the United States are unware of how different our country is depending on where it is that you live. It will rarely cross your mind that the people living in the Southwest are not experiencing the same thing as those living in the Midwest, and so-on-and-so-forth, there are, of course similarities, an example of which being McDonaldization and the illusion that efficiency and familiarity establish some deeply-rooted since of comfortability, though this is not entirely true. Yes, regardless, I did laugh at Tom Segura’s joke, “…the worse part, honestly, of traveling in our country is that there’s no surprises. I swear to you, I travel every week, and it’s really a disappointment. Every place is exactly what I thought it was going to be. You know? I can prove it to you. Picture a place you’ve never been to in this country. Picture it. Yup. That’s exactly how it is.”
…because there is truth to that, it’s those similarities, or differences that we actually think about: I live in Texas, in a little town in the heart of the Texas Hill Country, I grew up here, I moved out of state after high school for ten years, and now I’m back, there are still people who believe that here in Texas we ride our horses to work, and granted in another little town about 40 miles from me called Bandera there is truth to that, but they do not speak for the rest of Texas, however, you would be surprised by how different things actually are.
I keep repeating myself, why? Because it’s important for you to understand the differences. When I was living in Salt Lake City I developed a strong craving for Jamba Juice one Sunday afternoon, I drove around for nearly two hours just hoping to find a Jamba Juice that was open on a Sunday. I remember having a conversation with a female friend—or so I thought she was—until I asked her, “So, can men and women be friends?” Her response was, “Yeah, I think so.” I continued with, “What if one of them is married?” To which her response was, “Oh, absolutely not.”
The way that people think, what people are interested in, how people express and act on those interests, all of which, and more, differ depending very much on where it is within the United States that you live. I was at the gym last week in the middle of a conversation—which, frankly, I still cannot understand what this friend of mine was thinking approaching me at the gym while I wearing headphones, I honestly don’t care how well I might know you—he asked me about my work, “So you run an online library, right? How’s that going?” I responded with, “Well, it’s a bookstore…you know, and it’s going great…” He looked at me after I corrected him about my business being a bookstore and not a library as if to say, what’s the difference? And there’s a truth to that, in Texas. If you’re even the slightest bibliophile (book person) living wherever it is that you might be living you are probably familiar with Book People in Austin and Larry McMurtry’s bookstore in Archer City, Booked Up, those are the two bookstores to speak of in the state—in the state of Texas! And most Texan’s are not familiar with them, but then again most Texan’s are still under the impression that printed books and bookstores are a thing of the past, most Texan’s are not aware that as of 2012 bookstores, and especially privately owned used bookstores have seen a steady increase both in new stores and sales, and that digital—or eBooks—had leveled out in sales.
It’s a result, entirely, of this misconception that though you might drive by (or thru) a number of familiar franchises between here and everywhere else, that everywhere else is not the same. They are not watching the same news stations, they are not hearing—or agreeing—with the same ideals, and I’m not referring to a political agenda, even though our government and media has managed to make everything seem like it’s a political arena in attempt to divide a manipulated American public, bu-bu-buuttt that’s not exactly the point of this blog. I want to talk about books, and about reading, guess what? Reading is alive and well, and you fellow Texan’s I’m not only talking about in “dirty liberal cities” like San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, and New York, small town moderate (left of-, right of center Americans) are tearing through the spines of an increasing number of books and hauling them—after reading—to their local libraries or bookstores (what’s the difference again?) for reselling.
Did you know that Half Price Books started in Austin, Texas? HPB is one of the largest book retailers in the country, and, that’s right, it started here in lil ol’ Texas—there are five stores in San Antonio. Just outside of San Antonio in the numerous growing towns such as Boerne, Bandera, Comfort, Kerrville, Fredericksburg, and New Braunfuls the only existing bookstores (that are not specialty stores) exist within the local libraries, which, unfortunately, do not have the means to offer to the town the inventory or the hours that the residents deserve. The main reason for this is the fact that most people in rural Texas do not understand that people still enjoy reading. I know, from a number of perspectives that might sound ludicrous, in the sense that how can a person not know what they like, but that’s not what I’m trying to get across, it’s that you don’t necessarily know what other people like, and individuals, for whatever reason, make the assumption that they are different from everybody else, that our own interests are not shared by the people around us, and it’s that idea exactly that is the catalyst behind the ‘mob mentality’ reaction to—well, now-a-days, to just about everything.
Printed books are not going anywhere. And it’s not just about nostalgia, though there is something about holding a book, smelling it, having it resting on our shelves, it’s not entirely about that, and it may not be the most logical understanding, but the simple truth is that the reason books are not going anywhere is because, they are books. The Gutenberg Bible was printed in 1455, that’s more than 560 years ago. Don’t let your misunderstanding of what others may or may not understand affect something that you actually enjoy doing, pick up a book, grab something of your shelf, open the spine, and start reading. Respond to this article, and tell me what you decided to read, and how it made you feel—or visit Communitea Books and share with me a story about a time when you stopped reading, for a while, and came back to it, or tell me about a book you never finished, the one that’ still sitting on the shelf with a bookmark in it.
I am a freelance author, writer, critic, artist, and entrepreneur living in the Heart of the Texas Hill Country.