Dear Dusty Old Bookstore
Manhattan was once a wonderland for lovers of literature. What happened?
They began disappearing slowly, one by one, block by block. Some warned of the coming end by posting handwritten apologies and lengthy explanations on their windows, and some just closed their doors, quietly, saying nothing at all. But in the end it didn’t matter—apologies or explanations or silence—because the stark reality remained: The days of small, dusty, toy- and gadget-free independent bookstores were dwindling.
I was twelve when I first experienced one of these places. My mother, a recent convert to the early ’80s New Age spirituality craze, would drive from Astoria, Queens, to a Lower East Side shop filled with healing crystals and prisms, tarot cards, pendulums, gem stones and anything else that could alter energy or enable someone to commune with the dead. Wanting to shop without my pre-teen banter telling her that the stuff was “just dumb rocks,” she would send me next door to the nameless hole-in-the wall bookshop, which was actually the living room of…