Monday, February 01, 2010

Bodhi Tree Bookstore to Close

The venerable Bodhi Tree Bookstore in Los Angeles, California will close later this year, according to its owners, Phil Thompson and Stan Madson. You can catch the whole sad story by clicking here.

There were four bookstores in the United States where you could walk in and find almost any book on Buddhism ever published in the English language. The first was Shambhala, on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, now long gone. The second is Bodhi Tree, in the process of going. The third was Samuel Weiser's, in New York, also gone, and the fourth was Pasadena's Oriental Bookstore -- gone but not forgotten.

Amazon has done for bookstores what WalMart did for Main Street.

Where can I put a flower --- a flower that I found on a careless afternoon, with a pleasant companion, who kept it in her hair for just a while --- when there are no more pages to the books; when there are only screens? Where can I stand --- on a rainy afternoon, between appointments, enjoying the competition of the printers and designers and binders and pages --- when there are no more bookstores with their special scents, worn wood, and endless possibilities?

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9 reader comments:

The Barking Unicorn said...

You can be glad there was a bookstore or sad that it's gone.

What sort of numpty chooses to be sad?

Cliff in Cleveland said...

I am a book lover from way back in childhood. Still am. I was also saddened when Weiser's closed in NYC. I haven't been to the Bodhi Tree since the 80's when I was in LA to see the Dalai Lama. I know a lot of my CA friends are sad to see them close. Fine books are still available, it's just gotten really hard to find them. I do love the sensory aspect of the book experience. Touch, vision, smell, etc. And a great bookstore can really be a temple of knowledge... I have been in a few and they are now all gone.

Geoff said...

While I too mourn the passing of bricks-and-mortar bookstores, I am salivating at the prospect of carrying my entire Hindu and Buddhist library around on a single iPad, fully searchable with the ability to take notes hyperlinked to relevant passages. There will always be a place for hard copies of books, but the experience of electronic versions has certain benefits.

For sheer pleasure of reading nothing beats a hefty tome, but for scholarly work I'll take ebooks hands down. Not to mention that wide availability of electronic books will democratize knowledge removing the barrier of money and scarcity. The TBRC is a wondrous jewel, for example.

The Barking Unicorn said...

Geoff, for sheer pleasure of reading, nothing beats a warm toilet seat. ;-)

Glad you're adapting nicely.

Malcolm Smith said...

well, nope, there are three more left -- Trident Booksellers in Boston, and one in Boulder (not owned by same people, but both in the Shambhala community). There is another bookstore in Central Sq. In Cambridge that also has a wide selection of Buddhist books, Seven Stars. Both of these descend of the Shambhala bookstore in Harvard Sq., both being run by former managers of the Shambhala bookstore. Sam Berkholtz sold it off and these two stores opened in its place.

Anonymous said...

There's also one in Santa Fe. What was its name? I was there just a few years ago.

The Barking Unicorn said...

“When you realize how perfect everything is you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky”

I am vastly amused by the perfect irony of *this* blog's patrons mourning the passing of Buddhist bookstores they haven't visited in years and worrying about the fate of ones whose names they cannot remember.

Frater ID said...

I recently heard this sad news also. You could walk into this store, in one of the two buildings and get a book on ANYTHING spiritual or occult. I'll have to visit sometime soon.

TENPA said...

The iPad doesn't support multitasking, and if you think that's all, check out Hitler's reaction.

Didn't known about Boston, because I have precious little Massachusetts karma. Boulder, on the other hand, is a maybe.