Any other crossword lovers out there?

Published 11:48 pm Sunday, May 12, 2013

Working crossword puzzles for a long time has been my very favorite relaxer. I have been enjoying crossword puzzles so many years I can’t even remember when I started.

Since I earned a living for nearly 40 years working with words, I love solving challenging crosswords. My favorites are the Herald Tribune Crosswords Only and the National Observer Book of Crosswords. I also occasionally get a Superb Crossroads, which is a little easier.

A couple of weeks ago I was in the Mandeville area and stopped by Books-A-Million to pick up my favorite crossword puzzle books. Since Wal-Mart stopped carrying my brands, I could no longer find them locally despite intense searching!

I had resorted to going to Books-A-Million every now and then to pick up my copies as it was about the only bookstore I knew in the area that carried them.

Imagine my surprise to find the Mandeville store has changed into a used book outlet, still owned by Books-A-Million. The day I was there was the first day they were open. I walked in and asked for my favorite crossword books and was told that all their books are now used.

This is a big store and I couldn’t imagine so many used books that looked new. I didn’t have time to check it out as somebody was waiting for me and I was making a dash into the store. I did pass a woman carrying in a big bag of what was obviously books.

A used crossword book is no good anymore because it is just that — used! But the unused used ones they had were definitely not what I was seeking.

I will probably have to order a subscription to be able to get them, unless I find another bookstore. I feel some other crossword fan will advise me. I can’t be the only crossword fan in the area!

I don’t go to the malls anymore and working crosswords on the Internet holds no interest for me. I like the feel of a sharp No. 2 pencil on rough newsprint!

It set me to thinking. Are people not buying new books anymore? Why the change of a big bookstore to used books? I looked it up on the Internet and sources said the local store is a new concept for the Birmingham-based book retailer, which will buy and sell used books, movies, music and computer games. This apparently is a test run by the company in selected stores — Mandeville being one of them.

With the popularity of e-readers such as Nook and Kindle and also the computerized tablets, avid readers can now download books and magazines from the Internet, many at low to no cost. I have to admit my reading time has increased since I received my reader as a gift from my daughter.

As a former editor, I find a lot of problems in the downloaded versions of books. Apparently the book content is retyped for the reader versions and I find enough errors to really addle me.

After so many years editing copy, my eyes automatically stop at every mistake —spelling, punctuation or the wrong use of a word. It interferes with the free flow of reading.

If this change in the habits of readers could be affecting bookstores, can it also affect libraries? Will it gradually kill off book publishing? Technology has made a lot of changes in our daily lives, but I would really hate to see books just disappear.

There is still something about actually opening and reading a good book that brings a lot of gratification.

We love our e-readers and tablets, but we don’t want our books to disappear!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Retired Lifestyle Editor Bob Ann Breland, a resident of Pine, writes a weekly column and may be contacted at