Someone to tell it to is one of the fundamental needs of human beings.
If everyone paid cash, you make another 2% for that bookstore. Bring us a friend or a new customer once a year. We don’t want people to shop here out of moral obligation or guilt. We want to provide serendipity, literary events.
Because this is what being alive means, this is what being a person means, to be sickened by an illness known as you.
We have probably passed the point where there can be any credible objections to the existence and use of electronic readers. (I like the feel and smell of books as much as anybody, but come now: you can keep all of Montaigne and Tolstoy on a phone in your pocket. That’s amazing.) And booksellers have wholeheartedly embraced the online selling that keeps them in business. Yet bookstores provide something irreplaceable that we shouldn’t easily relinquish. Their knowing charms and surprises (even, admittedly, their parochialism and occasional cluelessness) spring from the people who run them and who decide what they will carry. Bookstores are, in essence, personal libraries. In this way, they are macrocosms of the books they contain—there is life inside them.