There’s disturbing news out of The New York Times. No, I’m not talking about the fact that an apparently popular Barnes & Noble across from Lincoln Center in Manhattan is closing due to escalating rent. No, I’m talking about the fact that it’s upsetting the people who spend time there reading without paying for the books.
The Times quotes 30-year-old lawyer Jai Cha, who said he comes to that BN often to read his way through “Book of Basketball” by Bill Simmons a chapter at a time. 70-year-old retiree Lillian Kelly said twice a week she eats a sandwich and coffee at the store while pawing through magazines.
As an enjoyer of books, this sort of cavalier behavior makes me shiver. Kelly’s magazine reading is less bothersome, but that’s only because magazines are discarded after a short period. A purchased book, however, is meant to last a lifetime. As such, I like for my books to be virtually untouched. It’s perfectly acceptable to read 10 or 20 pages to see if you like it (that’s what saved me from purchasing a truly awful thriller by Danny Tobey called “The Faculty Club”). But to read a whole book? Appalling! New books are sacrosanct, and each copy’s quasi-virginal nature is one of the great pleasures of owning books.
If you’re looking to read a book for free, try a library. The New York Public Library system has 87 branches and 20.4 million books. One of those branches, Riverside Library, is one block away from this BN, at 65th and Amsterdam. If you’re just browsing, please please please utilize the wonderful resource that is the library — I do all the time.