Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk

Legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus.

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Old Movies, Old Books and Changing Times

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | February 15, 2018

No. 1,419

We watched my all-time favorite sappy love story movie for Valentine’s Day last night,a 1999 classic, the “Love Letter.”  It is a light-hearted comedy about complications that befall the owner of a bookstore in a beach resort when she finds a love letter which she, erroneously it turns out, thought was written to her.  Then, she carelessly leaves it lying around, where it is found by other characters in the story, all of whom make the same assumption and then try to figure out who their secret admirer might be.  The mystery of the origin of the letter is not revealed until the end, of course.  Its a great story, but it never really became a big hit.  So it remains a personal favorite, one that I’ll have to watch a few more times on a few more Valentine’s Days.

While this plot is timeless, reminiscent in some ways of a Shakespearean Comedy, seeing it again makes me sad for a vanishing era that has almost disappeared during our lifetime.

Bookstores were wonderful places to spend a few hours, browsing in the stacks.  Like a honey bee, you could buzz from flower to flower, landing in territories you would never have visited on purpose.  You never knew whether, at the end of this voyage of discovery, you might emerge with a completely uncharacteristic armload of books.

This era ended rather abruptly, but not too long ago.  All seemed well when we  went to Border’s midnight celebration of the last Harry Potter Book, where kids were lounging around the store, devouring the latest offering on the spot like a pride of lions on a newly-fallen zebra.  Just like at Hogwarts, there was magic in the air that night.

But some months later, I was present at the end of our local Border’s.  The temporary employees of the liquidating  company were trying to push us out the door, so they could close it forever. I bought something near at hand as a memento. Sentimental perhaps, but that’s what I did.

Oh yes, there are still a few small bookstores around, but they are getting as rare as first editions of Dickens. These survivor book nooks are dying with their owners. I must admit, I’ve helped speed the demise.  Everything I buy is electronic now.  They don’t require storage and they are cheap.  I carry my whole library around in a cell phone. And it is no longer required for publishers and booksellers to take risks by ordering large quantities of an anticipated best seller.  Supply is endless and there is no waste.

The old-fashioned bookstore was a place where love could take root and bloom.  No chance of that at the Amazon website.  Too bad, progress.




CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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