Why bookstores matter


Dear Partners in thought,
I wanted to make a point that is linked to the defence of our values today. Whilst we all love books as they convey our precious thoughts, make us escape and reflect, giving us as André Malraux, another annoying Frenchman (and a smuggler in his youth), called a sense of immortality, books for me are also intrinsically linked to bookstores. Bookstores are the receptacles of those wonderful media, amazing places, organised or not, at times shambolic, that have made us meander and, yes, browse, while looking for and discover that book that was eluding us. Bookstores have also made our cities, villages, neighbourhoods  and communities. Manhattan to me would be different if I could not lose myself in the alleys of Barnes & Nobles on Fifth and 45th. Bookstores, like our values, are also who we are. Whilst technological progress cannot and should not be fought, the sheer pleasure of ordering books on Amazon is not there, even if efficiency is clearly met. In addition, Amazon does not give us that thrill of browsing and discovery, just telling us to buy what we have already read and thus limiting our horizons. However the thought that my search for efficiency would drive to breaking up a key element of society and life that are bookstores is not acceptable. Bookstores are disappearing as they, like most retailers but a few, just cannot compete, which as a free market man I can understand. Having said that there is a duty and even more so a real pleasure in ensuring bookstores stay around so we also keep that element of humanity that is embedded in our values and who we are. It is up to each of us to build society as we see for ourselves based on our values.
Please, buy on Amazon (or Alibaba) but keep going to your bookstores. Go to Barnes. Go to Waterstones. Go to Luxor. Buy books. Touch them. Be human. Be who we are.
Warmest regards,

Serge Desprat- June 10, 2018 (Prague)