We went to the bookstore yesterday afternoon - my wife, my two youngest kids, and myself - and spent over an hour browsing. Well, we bought, too, but I very much enjoyed seeing what was out there - this is a two-floor bookstore, mind you. I love shopping on Amazon.com for the prices, but I truly enjoy holding a book and eyeing it first-hand and flipping through the pages before purchasing. Usually I'll write the title down then go home and purchase it much cheaper on line. Fortunately, today my wife had a 40% off coupon so we were able to buy books at the store. I chose "L. Lincoln: A Biography" by Ronald C. White Jr., supposedly the latest, greatest biography of the 16th president available. I just began reading it, but it's a rather thick book, so I'll let you know how it is when I'm finished. It may take a while...
Anyhow, the book store we were at has a very large history selection - one of the largest I have seen. That's where I spent most of my time, just so you know.
Now, before I go any further, please allow me to place a quote here from Henry Ford that I know you have read before in previous blogs of mine. But, it has had quite an impact on me and my outlook and studies of history:
"History as it is taught in the schools deals largely with...wars, major political controversies, territorial extensions and the like. When I went to our American history books to learn how our forefathers harrowed the land, I discovered that the historians knew nothing about harrows. Yet our country depended more on harrows than on guns or great speeches. I thought a history which excluded harrows and all the rest of daily life is bunk and I think so yet."
Back at the bookstore I was taking my time to look at virtually every title to find anything on social American history. I found, out of literally hundred's of history titles, no more than five books dealing with everyday life in history. I already have plenty in my collection, but I am always on the look out for books that can expand on what I already have. So, I went to the help desk and asked where they would have their everyday life in history section.
"No, I'm sorry," the clerk said, "we don't have anything like that." In fact, they didn't have the means of looking up information by subject! "We need a title or an author."
Mr. Ford was right, one can have a difficult time learning about harrowing the land and other social history.
Unless they have the internet.
So, why are these books not available at such a large bookstore? Please don't say that they won't sell - they will sell if presented in the right context. Proof of this is everyday life books do very well on Amazon and other on-line stores.
I know. I know. In the great game of life, this complaint of mine is not even on the board. But, if there ever comes a time when I do not have access to the internet for any long length of time, I'm screwed.
Maybe the bookstores should get rid of the pedicure kits and kids toys (no fooling! They had 'em there!) and concentrate on their product.
Plus, rows of books on Obama is overkill, don't you think?
And that's the way it is, on March 29, 2009.