Dylan Jones: If you ask me

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The Independent Online

If you ask me, Las Vegas might just be the most wilfully illiterate place in America. I'm not talking about the city's brazen obsession with abbreviation, its dismissive attitude towards punctuation, or its fondness for alliteration (all of which you'll find displayed on any billboard, handbill or hotel brochure). No, I'm talking about Las Vegas's obvious disdain for the printed word.

A couple of weeks ago I spent a weekend there, and, as usual for a short trip, had brought along an armful of magazines and newspaper clippings and a couple of books to keep me occupied when I could no longer stomach the in-flight entertainment (oh for a non-rom-com airline), and for those jet-lagged early mornings. But the magazines and newspapers were devoured before I got to the opening credits of 27 Dresses, while I gobbled up my first book in four hours flat. Then, about an hour before we started our descent, I quickly realised that the second book I'd brought along was going to bore me to tears. Meaning that as soon as we landed, buying a replacement became a priority.

And something of a challenge. It took me half a day to realise that not only is it impossible to buy a book in Vegas, it's almost impossible to buy a newspaper. You might have thought that some enterprising young buck could have seen a gap in the market for a retail opportunity that doesn't involve gambling, eating or selling standard-issue knee-length khaki shorts, but no. I even, on one occasion, ended up having a bizarre conversation with someone manning an information desk, in which I had to explain what a book actually was.

On my last day there I thought I'd been successful when I spotted some leather-bound books in a clothes shop in one of the many hotel malls, only to discover as I got nearer that they were simply there as window dressing.

Just before we left I was told of a new "state-of-the-art Barnes and Noble concept store" on the edge of town, in a retail development way past the Mandalay Bay Hotel, but by then it was too late: our plane was taxiing, my sleeping pills were ready, and I was looking forward to watching the first 20 minutes of the Steve Carell rom-com, Dan in Real Life, about a man who meets a woman ... in a bookshop.

Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'

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