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I Wish A Bake Sale Could Fix It

Friday afternoon we stopped in at our
local Borders Bookstore, where we’ve spent many happy hours
hanging out and sampling books and generally wasting the morning
away. Maddie wanted to know what all the big signs in the windows
were for, and I explained that the store was going out of business.

Maddie was heartbroken.

“But where will I buy my Junie B. Jones books?” she
wailed, looking around the store in desolation. “I need to
buy all the rest of them NOW!”

I explained that there were lots of places
you could buy Junie B. Jones books, and she’d never lack for
plenty of reading material. But Maddie couldn’t be comforted;
this is the bookstore closest to home, and the place in her mind
where we go when she’s had a bad day and needs a cozy spot to
hang out or even buy a new book.

From there, of course, Maddie wanted to know WHY the store was
closing, and I had to explain our stumbling economy and the death
of storefront bookstores to a poor six-year-old. Hearing that it
was a lack of money, Maddie immediately offered to do a bake sale,
eerily paralleling her friend Elise’s decision to have a
lemonade stand to raise funds for Borders. I patiently explained
that a bake sale wouldn’t be enough, at which point Maddie
suggested we just “tell everyone in the city about it, and if
everyone in the city gives half their money to Borders, I bet it
can stay open.”

I understand her sadness; I still get all warm and fuzzy every time
I think of some of my favorite bookstores in New York where
I’d spend a good few hours on a cold and drizzly day. Even
now, when Amazon books are cheaper and easier to get, I still enjoy
going to a bookstore: there’s nothing to beat the tactile
sensation of actually shopping for a book, of picking them up and
feeling the weight, the heft of it, how the spine crackles when you
open it. I get it.

I reassured Maddie that there were several places around us that
still sold books. “There’s a Half-Price Books not far
from where we live, and we can make that our usual hang-out spot
instead of just our occasional hang-out spot!” I said, trying
to sound enthusiastic about the fifteen-minute drive we’d be
adding on to the equation.

Maddie was not reassured, and with her new-found understanding of
our economic system she was doubtful. “If they sell books for
half-price they’re going to close soon too!” she
moaned. And then she turned, full of melodrama, to her sister who
had been placidly building up an enormous stack of books while this
conversation was going on. “Cora, what are we going to

Cora looked at Maddie. “Well, I don’t know about you,
but I’m putting all the books I’m interested in right
here in a stack, and I’m going to sit down, and I’m
going to read them before they close!”

And that’s what we did.


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