I heard on Twitter today that Different Light Bookstore in the heart of San Francisco’s Castro district is having a closing sale. I have no idea how much longer they will keep the doors open.
I’m finding this difficult to process. DLB has been a part of the Castro for as long as I’ve been going there. It has been more than merely a bookstore to the community; it has been a gathering place, a cruising spot, a place to organize events, and a place to see what’s happening in the world of gay literature. I have seldom walked around the Castro without popping in for a looksee at what was new. I will miss it dearly.
All brick-and-mortar bookstores have been hit hard this last decade, and the trend continues, but gay bookstores have been hit especially hard. A few years ago, before Island Song was first published, I compiled a list of over a hundred gay bookstores across the country. Now I know of only a handful of gay bookstores left. I’m sorry to say that this is one bit of evolution that I find depressing. Call me old fashioned, but I like the feel of books, and I like browsing through bookstores, seeing the covers, reading the first few pages, checking out what the hunk next to me is reading.
How long before there are no bookstores? How long before there are only ebooks? For me, books are a joy. I love to hold them, to be surrounded by them. I have a library full of leather-bound books. They bring comfort, knowing I can pick one up, take in a story at my pace, run my fingers over the tiny little ink strokes, flip pages back and forth. Granted those are small things, but pleasure is made up of many tiny delights.
There is nothing to be done it appears. Economics trumps quality of life once again. Progress charges onward and upward.