For the last 40 years, Open Air Books and Maps, which is currently housed in a cramped basement at the corner of Adelaide and Toronto streets, on the edge of the financial district, has been a lighthouse guiding travellers, a library for adventurers and the wanderlusty, a refuge for explorers and seekers. It will, at the end of this month, be closing its doors for good.
This morning at work, two undergraduates chatted in the elevator I took to the seventh floor about their weekend plans. One of the students couldn’t contain herself that she was jetting off to the UK after class. As the day continued, I would learn that many more of my students would be jetting off somewhere for March Break.
That flying across oceans, even among struggling university students, is as simple as turning a page now doesn’t surprise me. That book stores are shuttering across the planet doesn’t surprise me. The printed page is an endangered species today in this age of quick but summated e-answers, fast but scathing e-ratings, and instant but ruthless e-reviews. But it doesn’t need to be for sometimes a good indexed book and few maps are all you’ll ever need.
When Mr. Axler was preparing for his around-the-world odyssey, which took him through Africa and the Indian subcontinent, among other places, “it was just so hard finding stuff” about the places he was planning on visiting. “You’re in places like Liberia, in all likelihood, once in your life. It’s nice to know as much as you can.
“A book, as a percentage of your travel costs, is so negligible,” he says. “I always tell people: If you can enhance your trip by just one or two things, that’s worth the price of the book.”
Ain’t that the truth?