Monday, March 04, 2013

Sad day at Nice Price

I stopped into the Nice Price Books in Carrboro to try to relieve them of some inventory before they pack up for good.  I did my best.

A couple of things jumped out at me. First off, the "classic" literature section had a really depressing quantity of CliffsNotes. It was visually, if not physically dominated by the skinny yellow plague. The "philosophy" section was all of 3 skimpy shelves, and I could not find the copy of Marcus Aurelius's Meditations that I was looking for.

UNC is said to be a "public ivy", and it comes in the top 25 of many rankings of US universities altogether. The shabbiness of these categories in a good solid used book store in a town that has historically had good book stores is sad.  I'd like to think that these sections had been picked over as hardcore book vultures swarmed over Nice Price prior to its closing.  (Let the record show that I am not one of them. I've got a solid backlog of books at home. I really went up there for music, to help them get some revenue in the door before moving, and relieve them of the need to pack up and unpack inventory at their other locations). I certainly don't think the books weren't there because the store owners didn't buy this type of book, though I could be wrong.  I think that this part of the book ecosystem is dying back, and that's a shame.

I think that the lack of truly old books at Nice Shows the downside of the Entrepreneurial University that everybody's been all excited about of late, that universities have become too focused on pragmatic outcomes over the course of the rattling of our practical age.

As the humanities wither, the door is left open to the purveyors of new age quackery on the one hand and bulk discount Christianity on the other. I think it is probably true that a generation of theoretical enthusiasm within the humanities interposed a layer of crap people have had to wade through to get back to the texture of history itself which is offered by old books.

No comments: