Slate's Farhad Manjoo has written a withering critique of local bookshops, arguing that everybody would be better off just buying from Amazon. At Salon, Will Doig begs to differ. Bookstores are about way more than just hawking books, he writes. They "function as communal spaces, which makes them valuable urban amenities." Similar to farmers' markets, they "operate as quasi-public neighborhood trusts that give city dwellers more than they receive in return." In short, they help build a city's culture.
"Bookstores provide a space to meet friends, cruise for a date, and hide out when you have nothing to do on a Saturday night," writes Doig. "They provide a small slice of intellectual development in a retail landscape that’s otherwise dominated by denim, cupcakes and facial moisturizer." The stores have something like an unspoken contract with customers: Come in, hang out, browse all you want, and every now and then plunk down money for a book. "Rather than look for reasons why they shouldn’t be celebrated, you could just as easily ask why, even in the age of Amazon, they still are." Read the full column here. (Read more bookstore stories.)