Paul E. Anna: High Points
September 3, 2009
With the close of the season, word comes that summer won’t be the only thing that will be gone come Tuesday. The best little store in Aspen for two decades, The Aspen Bookstore, is said to be closing on Sept. 8. There will be a reopening for liquidation following the renovation of The Little Nell, but for all practical purposes, Aspen will be a one-bookstore town come next week.
Since 1989, one of the few things in this town that you could count on to be the same as it ever was was that John Edwards would be sitting in his perch in the front window of The Nell, surrounded by books, newspapers and magazines that brought the whole wide world to our doorstep. In a world where consistency gets too little credit, John should be honored for showing up no matter the season, no matter how much powder was out there, no matter how slow the offseason was. He opened daily and always kept the store stocked.
His selections and recommendations were impeccable. Never have I walked in and not wished I could buy something else, another novel, another photo book, another magazine. Every book in the place, it seemed, had something of value.
Perhaps that was because the little store was just the right size. In a town where everything big is purported to be better, the 300-or-so-square-foot Aspen Bookstore was a cozy place to go and buy a book. One had to just turn around to be in an entirely different section of books with new finds and discoveries. And discovery, after all, is what makes a bookstore great.
As was the case when Town Center Books closed in Basalt, there is not just sadness to see another independent bookseller lock its doors but also a sense of guilt that more was not done to help the store financially. We all could have bought more books. We still have the Explore Booksellers left here in town and hopefully it will stay for a long, long time.
While it is hard to argue with the convenience of buying books on Amazon or getting the mega selection that is available in a Barnes and Noble, the simplicity and service that are the hallmarks of small, independent bookstores offer a unique experience. One that is a little more personal, a little more fulfilling. The only way that we can keep this experience is to help the independents remain viable by supporting them.
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This may well be the right time for John to close the Aspen Bookstore. He has worked long and hard providing visitors and locals with great literature and with great book-buying, and, yes, great book-browsing experiences, for 20 years. It is time to allow him the opportunity to “re-pot” if you will. To let him move along and write the next chapter in his life.
But like a great book that you have lived with for awhile, when you get to the final page it can be hard to close the cover.
Thanks, John. Best of luck in your future endeavors.
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