Vanishing Bookstores

Crossroads books exists. If you Google it, you’ll find the name. There’s a lovely website with an address. It’s simple and small and everything you would expect from a bookstore in Culpepper, VA. When you call the number, the husband and wife who own the store answer. Would you like a book? If they don’t have it in stock, they can order it for you. You can pick it up when it’s arrived.

When you get the call, you drive down one lonely highway after another, past dairy farms and construction supply depots and the occasional Buddhist ashram until you reach this tiny store. Hidden between a Johnny Rebel boot repair shop and a walk-in medical clinic, it feels more like a closet than a store. The counter is a tiny desk with an old-fashoned register. They let you browse around, hand you your book, and are always smiling when you check out.

One grey afternoon you decide to drop in and browse the shelves. You go to the exact same spot as before, and look between the Johnny Rebel and the walk-in clinic. You see nothing. The stores have expanded, just a little, pressing the closet-small bookstore out of existance. You pick up the phone and dial the number. The voice mail answers, thank you for calling, letting you know you can place an order at any time. They will do their best to assist. Please call first before pick-up.

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