Last updateWed, 18 Oct 2017 10am

The transforming book scene

Photo By: Courtesy of Elayne Dauber
Photo Courtesy Of Elayne Dauber

Booklovers of all ages rummage through boxes of reading materials during a recent Friends of the Library used-book sale at Hillview Community Center.

There has been much discussion about the Internet’s effect on books, bookstores and libraries. Will paper books disappear? Will libraries become unnecessary or be transformed into community centers? Will we need so much bookshelf space when all books become electronic? What will happen to Friends of the Library groups?

One result is already apparent. Bookstores, particularly used bookstores, are disappearing. Just a few years ago Los Altos had Heintzelman’s, a used bookstore on Second Street; The Book Nook; and a children’s bookstore, Linden Tree Books. We are very fortunate to still have Linden Tree, which, I understand, also offers some adult books, and there are some new books available at Main Street Cafe & Books. Other communities are not so lucky.

But for the person who wants to browse through myriad old and new books, to touch them, to randomly find something of interest, we have libraries and we have the Friends of the Library of Los Altos and Community used-book sales. There are few other options. Used bookstores are virtually nonexistent in our part of the South Bay.

This is too bad, because there is something very exciting about observing hundreds of titles, being able to open a book, look at the chapters, feel the binding, read a few pages and purchase it at an affordable price. There is an excitement about being able to buy a bag for $5 and just toss books in it until it is full to overflowing. It’s not a hard decision to buy a book if it costs almost nothing and can easily be returned or recycled.

Are the days of the Friends of the Library used-book sales numbered? Certainly, we still receive thousands of donations every week and still offer sales with 25,000-30,000 books available four times a year. But we need to savor these sales. It is very possible that electronic books will spell the end of paper books. I’m hoping this doesn’t happen anytime soon.

The next Friends of the Library used-book sale is scheduled 6:30-9 p.m. Feb. 8, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 9 and noon to 3 p.m. Feb. 10 at Hillview Community Center, 97 Hillview Ave., Los Altos.

Elayne Dauber is a longtime member of Friends of the Library of Los Altos and Community.

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