I didn’t have time to stop at the public library before setting off on a journey to Missouri, 550 miles away. “That’s okay,” I thought, “I’ll take my truck-drivers’ library card and pick up some books-on-CD along the way.” I’ve been a lifetime member of AudioAdventures since 1999, when I made monthly trips from Duluth to Ann Arbor, Michigan. Back then, I knew all the truck stops that stocked the books.
I loved the format: check the book out in one location, turn it in at any of the others. It wasn’t free – but after I accumulated points, the membership was free, and the books were up-to-date. I was introduced to Brother Cadfael, Jim Qwilleran, and a host of other characters through the collection, and read a lot of nonfiction that I would otherwise have passed by.
When I didn’t find an AudioAdventures outlet in the first two truckstops, I was puzzled; I did an online search. Sad news: they went out of business, referring me instead to a recorded books service that delivers to my door. No more finding a new author or a new book in some out-of-the-way corner of the country.
The website says they closed after 20 years of service; I was there for 11 of them. I am sad every time I see a genuine browsing opportunity – the chance to come across a book simply because it’s in a rack or next to something else – disappear. I would never have gone in search of detective stories featuring a Native American law officer from the Four Corners region – but I was certainly glad to find Sgt. Jim Chee and Lieutenant Leaphorn and the rest of Tony Hillerman’s characters.
A belated farewell, AudioAdventures – and a reminder to myself to cherish and support those remaining browsing locations where they exist.