From Paulina Springs Books’ newsletter, Cyberpassages, March 2018
Ding! Your computer (or phone) chirps cheerfully, alerting you to a new email. Oh, look! It’s a new edition of Cyberpassages– and about time, too, because this time it’s a little more than fashionably late. You open it right away, anticipating a slew of fresh reviews, and an insightful letter from Brad– but alas, on one front you are to be disappointed. The reviews are here, but this time Brad is not. Instead you get me, Cedar.
That’s right, I’m still around! I’m mostly behind the scenes these days, though. I keep our website updated, help with the newsletter and post all of those oh-so-hilarious memes you see on our Facebook page. I enjoy being the designated web and social media person (who doesn’t love working from home in their pajamas?) and I’m glad to still be involved with Paulina Springs Books. Admittedly, when I left my old position at the store in favor of a job with a shorter commute (I live in Redmond and at the time I had a Toyota Camry that was old enough to vote in the last two presidential elections), it was with a heavy heart.
I knew I would miss teasing with Brad so relentlessly that sometimes other co-workers would intervene; I would miss lingering behind the counter talking about dogs with Sue, when I was supposed to be stocking books; I would miss teasing Cynthia about her technological mishaps, and gushing with Ruth Ann over our latest favorite books. Just as much as I knew I would miss my co-workers, I mourned the impending loss of you all, the book-lovers who keep Paulina Springs Books going.
Getting a job at a bookstore was a dream come true for me, but I always imagined that the highlight of the job would be the ambiance: the intoxicating smell of ink on paper; the rows of new hardcovers, their pristine spines uncracked; the euphoria of unboxing new titles on their release date and shelving them with all the pride of a midwife ushering a newborn into the world (okay, so maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but you get what I’m saying). I never dreamed that above all that, I would cherish the comfort and familiarity that comes from serving a close-knit community– especially my Sunday regulars. Those were my peeps! If one of my customers didn’t show up by their regular time, it wasn’t unusual for me to check on them with a phone call, and likewise if I called in sick for work whoever covered for me would be hassled for an explanation. I knew about my regulars’ lives outside the bookstore, and they knew about mine. Who knew such intimacy could form over a weekly newspaper reservation? So yes, I was sad to leave all of that behind.
But here’s the thing: I didn’t leave it behind at all. After I left, Brad continued to be Brad, so of course I had to keep teasing him about it; Sue continued to send me pictures of her wolfhounds; like clockwork, I still receive frantic calls from Cynthia asking me to help demystify the enigma that is Survey Monkey, and every month I still get to hear all about Ruth Ann’s new favorite mystery. And, to my surprise, I continued to hear from my beloved customers. Even now almost two years later, I continue to receive requests for book recommendations; invitations to game nights, book clubs and political marches, and inquiries about whether or not I’m still driving around in something that probably isn’t technically a car anymore (I’m happy to report that no, I am not). In many ways, it’s like I never left at all.
What’s with all the sentimental rambling, you ask? Independent Bookstore Day is on the horizon, and its arrival has me thinking about what bookstores mean to readers. They’re more than just a convenient place to buy the latest installment in your favorite series, or a way to support the local economy while getting your literary fix. While the wonderful friendships I described grew to transcend beyond Paulina’s mustard-colored walls, they all were born within the confines of the bookstore. None of those intimate conversations could have happened if they didn’t start with a casual discussion about a book. That’s what bookstores do; they build relationships between readers, booksellers, authors and all of the other awesome people that congregate under their roofs. That’s something you definitely can’t buy on Amazon.
So, in the spirit of Independent Bookstore Day, thank you for continuing to support us and allowing us to be an ongoing part of the Sisters culture. Thank you for being part of our community.