Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Forever is a Funny Word

There is a sign on the door of Acres of Books that says all that needs to be said: "Closed forever. Thanks for everything."
And yet on a recent afternoon when owner Jackie Smith was inside her shop at 240 Long Beach Blvd. watching a local bookseller and hired laborers packing up the last of the store's inventory, a man stood outside pounding on the door that held the sign. Jackie finally came over to see what he wanted. "Are you going to be open on Monday?" was his question. "Forever" is a hard concept to get one's mind around sometimes. "It's been sad," says Jackie, who once oversaw the kingdom of tomes that numbered in excess of a million volumes in the best of times. "Every day when I close up and go out to my car, someone from the neighborhood will see me and give me a hug and say how sorry they are to see us go," she says. "But now, at the end, I'm resigned to it and I'm thinking let's get it over with. It's time to retire."
The decision was rushed along by the city, which paid her and her husband Phil (who inherited the store from his grandfather, Bertrand Smith, who started the business in 1934) almost $3 million for the building so that redevelopment plans could proceed apace.(read more..)

Renowned sci-fi author Ray Bradbury - who penned classics such as The Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheint 451 - appeared at Long Beach's most famous bookstore, Acres of Books to talk about what makes the store so great and why it should be spared. Acres of Books was sold to the city of Long Beach so that the land can be redeveloped, but Ray is having none of that. He explains his love of the store and promises to call the Mayor, also dropping words of writing wisdom along the way.

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