A chapter’s about to end | VailDaily.com

A chapter’s about to end

My friend’s bookstore will likely close in a few weeks.Vail’s boom has not rippled out to the small shops, particularly along East Meadow Drive at and beyond Crossroads. Blame it on construction, the Easter egg hunt to find hidden stores, the barrier created by the current worn-out Crossroads, changing tastes of customers including a growing lust for cheap prices in big boxes.And in Verbatim’s case, perhaps, the decline of readers in American society.Verbatim has been around for 22 years, in one location or another. The local bookstore has not been another passive place to browse. Its owners, at least in the seven years I’ve been a customer, have always been downright aggressive about taking part in literary events. The Bookworm in Edwards has been the same.The Festival of Words, Mitch Albom, all the network anchors who have written and lots of national and regional authors have come to the valley to enrichen our culture. To help make our community the special place it is beyond the ski slopes and apres places.I’m afraid we’re about to find out how much we’ve taken this for granted. The Festival of Words has faded into history, despite what I thought were solid turnouts. The book-signings supported by Verbatim appear headed to dust, although the Bookworm also is active with these, along with the Vail Valley Symposium.The classical Bravo! music and International Dance festivals continue to grow, and the Vilar hangs in there. The Vail Valley Institute, though pricey, attracts top minds in the country to grapple with the hottest political issues at their annual June seminars. The Vail Film Fest is ascending, and rather rapidly at that. The culinary offerings here cannot be topped.So our cultural environment will remain rich for a mountain community. Just not so much on the literary front. Other mountain towns will lead us here. I don’t suppose it would surprise you much that words and books and authors mean the most to me. I believe that the very apex of a society rests in its literature. This is where we most richly imagine the future, make our peace with the present and understand our past. Everything else springs from our literature. That’s the catalyst.Too bad our philanthropists don’t quite value books as they do classical music, dance, cuisine, the staged arts and celluloid. Some do, I know. Verbatim’s owner, Robert Aikens, has some takers in his drive to raise the $200,000 he needs to keep the store open through the reconstruction of the neighborhood. I wish my wife and I were in position to join in. Instead, I dropped by and bought another armload of books I won’t even get to for at least a year. (Especially taking on tomes like Immanuel Kant’s “Critique of Pure Reason,” the current bedside fodder; there’s over 500 pages to go of reading each sentence aloud, over and over, in the sometimes vain attempt to get it. Talk about being humbled.) This latest home for Verbatim might be part of the problem. Tucked away behind Campo de Fiori, with only lettering the size of a newspaper headline to tell anyone on the street it’s back there, this nook is quaint and charming as can be. You just have to be able to find it. And determined. That’s my fear. Well, I guess it’s beyond fear, clear to realization. There simply may not be quite enough determination to keep an active bookstore in Vail. I don’t think Vail has a clue how much they will miss what’s been taken for granted for over half the town’s existence.Managing Editor Don Rogers can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14600, or editor@vaildaily.comVail, Colorado

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