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Losing our local fabric, one thread at a time

But everything changes, and that will, too. Wisconsin-based Book World, which somehow managed to be the fourth-largest book chain in the U.S., will soon vacate storefronts across the Midwest. The company cited the loss of sales to online competitors. So small communities like Rice Lake, Sturgeon Bay, Shawano and 17 others in Wisconsin will lose one more thread of local fabric. A few may have a local bookstore tended by dedicated owners. Most will go without, and their communities will be the less for it. Hopefully a new model will emerge in these towns. Until then, those who love books will probably get them from the online behemoth that will go unnamed. Pining for local storefronts, local banks, local grocers and the like can easily devolve into nostalgic whining, but we do lose part of who we are as these institutions fail, or when we fail them.As the holidays approach, generations of Wisconsinites will recall piling into the family car for the Thanksgiving-night unveiling of the H.C. Prange Christmas windows in their communities. Those nights are long gone, but the memories linger. Book World the chain isn’t local, but its stores sure are. They have whole sections of books by local and regional authors. Here, a best-seller has been “The Animal Keepers: The Story of an Unlikely Hero and an Unforgettable Season.” It is a touching tale written by Donn Behnke, the cross-country coach at Stevens Point Area Senior High, in which he tells of a special championship season and how the team and community rallied around one special member of that team. Written a couple of years ago, it must still sell briskly, as evidenced by the prominent place it holds on the local and regional shelves at Book World. You can buy the book online, but the question is, “Why?” It’s a local book about local folks, and you can get it at a local bookstore.

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The Cap Times