Though I like the magazine, I’ve never been to an n+1 reading. But I found myself there on a Friday at BookCourt in Brooklyn, listening to a soft-spoken Kristin Dombek read from her essay on “sex, drugs, and Ryan Gosling in Williamsburg.” (At this point, I’ve heard about just enough run-ins with Ryan Gosling to believe that he is not a real person, but rather, a product of the sexual fantasies of New York women.)
Standing under a speaker so I could follow Dombek’s narrative, I observed the crowd. Most of the men sported glasses and stubble. The women, if “alternative,” shared the straight, glossy hair that those without it envy. Even in its hush, the crowd was confident that this, an independent bookstore in Brooklyn, was its territory.
“Hipster culture” has become so amorphous as to include anything that is just not mainstream. And though I believe that passionate print-lovers will keep the business alive, I don’t want that group to become ineffective, albeit well-meaning. (Too often I am convinced that I have already turned into the crotchety 80-year-old I fear becoming.) I want to believe that e-readers will make books more available – to businessmen who travel often, to college students whose backpacks are already too heavy. I just want to know that they will do what they intended – give us books, not games or e-mail or texting – and nothing more.