Another little gem closes down

To the editor:

When my favorite independent bookstore, Albion Book Co., closed down last month, I was saddened and disappointed that there were apparently fewer and fewer Las Vegans like me who enjoy the experience of browsing through an eclectic selection of books and interacting with staff members who share the same passion for reading. I remember thinking to myself, “Well, at least we still have The Reading Room at Mandalay Bay.”

Imagine my disappointment when I read in Saturday’s paper that the Mandalay Bay mall was closing it down.

I often wondered why a casino mall would want to have such a wonderful little gem of a bookstore, but it made a lot more sense when the article mentioned that The Reading Room was the creation of former Mandalay President Glenn Schaeffer, who has a taste for, and a background in, literature. I guess it could have been predicted that this unique little pocket of culture would last only as long as Mr. Schaeffer’s reign at Mandalay Bay (a mere four years).

If you have never been there, the store has a wonderfully diverse selection of books and a nice indoor patio area with small tables to read and sip coffee. The shelves are decorated with dozens of handwritten notes from the highly literate Reading Room employees with short book reviews of their favorite reads.

In your article, the vice president of marketing for the mall, Scott Voeller, said the store was very popular with locals, but the mall was looking to appeal to more of the demographic that frequents the Mandalay Bay and Luxor (read: people who don’t read). I can’t say that I blame him — most Las Vegas visitors are not coming here on book-buying junkets, obviously, and the location of the store next to a Starbucks just off the casino floor no doubt represents some fairly premium real estate that could be used for something more profitable, like say, another Starbucks.

Assuming Mandalay Bay officials aren’t going to magically change their minds and keep The Reading Room open as a token to the local community, my only wish is that Mandalay Bay or Mr. Schaeffer consider re-creating this small gem in another location — maybe even near the university, which is sorely lacking a bookstore.

Rick Van Diepen

LAS VEGAS

Rolling the dice

To the editor:

Like many other residents of Las Vegas who have watched the housing downturn, I want to give a great, hearty thank you to all the speculators and investors who hold a large portion of the responsibility for the area’s foreclosures (60 percent, according to recent reports in The Wall Street Journal), vacant homes and fraudulent home purchases.

As these speculators walk away from homes that they purchased with no money down, chalking up the experience to bad investing, average homeowners throughout the valley watch the value of their homes drop as their neighborhoods become littered with For Rent, For Sale or foreclosure signs.

Yes, real estate is an investment area. That will never change. However, I and many other Las Vegas residents alike hope that those of you who view homes as nothing more than a stock portfolio to discard when it loses value go to other states in the future and play out your hands there.

R. Gill

LAS VEGAS

Health care system

To the editor:

Your Feb. 1 editorial on Canadian health care, “This isn’t brain surgery,” hit the nail squarely on the head.

One only has to also compare the dreadful national health care system in England to see the similarities. It can take six months or more to see a specialist unless you want to go “private” and pay a lot of cash to get an earlier appointment. A relative in the south of England was faced with this last December, and as she was in a lot of pain, decided to pay the $600 to get an appointment within two weeks, versus seven months. Many people travel abroad to get things fixed quickly, and less expensively — if they can afford it, of course.

This situation has been going on for very many years, but the government can’t or won’t fix it to alleviate patient suffering, waiting time and cost. It doesn’t stop there. If you should need surgery, the wait can be up to 12 months, depending on your problem.

I recall that an old friend of mine in Bristol, England, had to wait 12 months to have a pacemaker fitted. Another friend waited more than 12 months for stomach surgery.

It is easy for politicians to plug a new national health care system for all who want it, but they do not say how the government and medical fraternity would cope with it. We need a sensible, practical and affordable plan which addresses the variety of problems in running it efficiently, and effective solutions for the patient support required from doctors, hospitals and others.

Right now the political players seem to be putting the cart before the horse.

G. Marsh

LAS VEGAS

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