How do you meet the challenge of
it. Things we invent are tools we can
use; the trick is not to let them use us.
I worry more about kids on screens
too much and not reading. We cannot
afford to lose our literacy.
behemoths like Walmart and Amazon?
Quality gives way to quantity. Every-
You passed on an academic career.
body in the bookselling business has
been affected by the predatory prac-
tices of Amazon. Capitalism thrives on
this, the ways to make incredible prof-
its. But, at this point, print is doing way
better than anyone expected. The real-
ity is that independent bookstores have
made a comeback—seven years ago,
there were 1,400 across this country—
today there are around 2,300! We have
such loyal customers—people do value
certain things, like local businesses, and
a place for community to gather.
I like to say I am technically still on
a leave of absence from UB. I found out
I liked selling books better than graduate school. I can be both student and
teacher; what I’ve been doing is a more
personal way of teaching—engaging
people about ideas and books.
What if you didn’t have Talking
Leaves? What else might you be doing?
Maybe I would have been a librarian.
Then again, I have always loved gardening and any kind of outdoor work. I like
using my mind and my body. I think I
would have loved to have been a manual
laborer of any sort. If you have an attitude that you’re going to learn something
from whatever you do—well, I think one
could be happy doing anything. I think
what we owe the world is engagement
and making it a better place.
Maria Scrivani writes about local history and
people who make a difference.